Police Maj. Yasin Haji told CNN that at least 50 other people were injured in the ongoing attack on Hotel Hayat.
A number of gunmen are holding hostages and continuing to fire from inside at security forces, slowing down the operation to regain control of the hotel, Haji added.
“It took us more than 24 hours to end the terrorist siege of the Hayat Hotel because the attackers took civilians hostage and used them as human shields. We cleared the first and the last floor. But they are always in the middle of the two floors,” Haji said. .
Ahmed Abdi, a doctor at Madina Hospital, said the death toll was likely to rise and many victims were in critical condition. Madina is one of two main hospitals in Mogadishu where most of the victims were taken.
The hospital is still receiving bodies and other injured people, Abdi said.
Police Maj. Farah Hussein confirmed to CNN that Somali security forces entered the Hayat Hotel building and regained most of the control from the gunmen. The area is frequented by legislators and government officials.
Two security officials, including Mogadishu’s intelligence chief Muhidin Mohamed, were injured in the ongoing attack, Major Hassan Dahir, a police officer, told CNN. Details remained murky, however, as the siege continued.
In May, US President Joe Biden decided to redeploy troops to Somalia to support local government and counter al-Shabaab. The move reversed a decision by former President Donald Trump to withdraw all US troops from the country.