Six civilians were killed and 10 wounded in a six-hour siege by Al-Shabaab terror group at a beachside hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, police said.
"Six civilians were martyred in the attack... and 10 others were wounded. Three brave members of the security forces were martyred during the rescue operation," the Somali Police Force said in a statement on Saturday.
The Al Qaeda-linked terrorists have been waging an insurgency against the internationally backed federal government for more than 15 years and have often targeted hotels, which tend to host high-ranking Somali and foreign officials.
The assault, for which Al Shabab claimed responsibility, began just before 8 pm on Friday (1700 GMT) when seven attackers stormed the Pearl Beach hotel, a popular spot at Lido Beach along Mogadishu's coastline.
It ended at around 2 am, police said, after a fierce gunfight between security forces and the militants, all of whom were killed during the battle.
"The security forces managed to rescue 84 people including women and children and elderly people," the police statement added.
Witnesses reported hearing gunfire and explosions at the hotel on Lido beach.
"I was near the Pearl Beach restaurant when (a) heavy explosion occurred in front of the building," one witness, Abdirahim Ali, told AFP news agency.
"I have managed to flee but there was heavy gunfire afterwards and the security forces rushed to the area."
Yaasin Nur was at the restaurant and told AFP it was "full of people as it was recently renovated".
"I'm worried because there are several of my colleagues who went there and two of them are not responding to their phones," he said.
Several ambulances were also parked nearby, an AFP journalist saw.
Last year, Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud launched an "all-out war" against Al Shabab, rallying Somalis to help flush out members of the jihadist group he described as "bedbugs".
His pledge came after 21 people were killed and 117 others were wounded in an Al Shabab siege on a Mogadishu hotel in August 2022 that lasted 30 hours.
Two months later, twin car bombings in Mogadishu killed 121 people and injured 333 in the country's deadliest attack in five years.
The army and militias known as "macawisley" have in recent months retaken swathes of territory in the centre of the country in an operation backed by the African Union mission ATMIS and US air strikes.
But Al Shabab terrorists killed 54 Ugandan peacekeepers last month in an attack on an African Union base in the southern town of Bulo Marer.
In August 2020, Al Shabab launched a large-scale attack on the Elite, another hotel at Lido beach popular with officials, killing 10 civilians and a police officer.
The UN said in November that at least 613 civilians had been killed and 948 injured in violence in Somalia last year, mostly caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) attributed to Al-Shabaab.