Somalia’s security forces early Thursday morning ended a night-long siege by al-Shabab Islamic extremists at a popular Mogadishu restaurant.
Survivors of the attack were led by soldiers from the Pizza House restaurant building. The injured were taken by ambulances.
Soldiers surrounded the restaurant building and used guns mounted on the backs of vehicles to neutralize the militants. Troops entered the ground floor while the insurgent snipers held positions upstairs.
All five attackers were killed and after dawn the soldiers secured the building, said senior Somali police office Capt. Mohamed Hussein. The troops’ efforts to take control of the Pizza House restaurant were slowed by the darkness of night, forcing them to wait until morning, said Hussein.
Survivors recounted harrowing stories of hiding under tables, as armed attackers continued firing in the restaurant and hunted for patrons. Attackers moved from room to room, looking for people, said a survivor.
“I never thought I would have the chance to see the sun again. They were killing people on sight,” said Saida Hussein, a university student who survived the attack by hiding behind a large table downstairs.
Another survivor, Aden Karie, was wounded by an attacker who spotted him moving behind a curtain in the dark room.
“He shot at me twice and one bullet struck me on the leg,” said Karie as he was taken to an awaiting ambulance.
The roofs were blown off the restaurant and nearby buildings from the powerful blasts.
High casualties are feared in the attack on the busy restaurant. The bodies of five girls thought to have been killed by the militants were found in the restaurant, said police. Inside the building, the body of a Syrian man who worked as a chef at restaurant lay near the rubble of a blood-spattered and bullet-marked wall.