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At least 12 killed in Somalia hotel siege, hostages held

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MOGADISHU, Aug 20 (Reuters) – At least 12 people have been killed in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu after al Qaeda-linked militants attacked a hotel, seizing hostages that authorities were battling to free nearly 20 hours later, an intelligence officer said on Saturday.

The attackers blasted their way into the Hayat Hotel on Friday evening with two car bombs before opening fire. Somalia’s al Shabaab insurgents have claimed responsibility. read more

“So far we have confirmed 12 people, mostly civilians, died,” Mohammed, an intelligence officer who only gave one name, told Reuters.

The gunmen were holding an unknown number of hostages on the second floor of the facility, Mohammed said, preventing authorities from using heavy weapons.

They had also boombed out the stairs to make it harder to access certain floors, he said.

The detonations sent huge plumes of smoke over the busy junction on Friday night, and the sound of gunfire still crackled across the capital by 0700 GMT on Saturday.

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