In the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia a small militia of heavily armed men have stormed a popular tourist restaurant inside the nation's capital posing as military forces.
It's believed they're holding an unknown number of hostages and their demands aren't clear at this time.
The onslaught of the attack started when a car bomb exploded at the gate to the entrance of the popular restaurant. Police officials have stated that while the extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility they were still investigating.
An estimated 17 people, including foreigners, were killed in the explosion according to police and an ambulance driver in the area.
Khalif Dahir, an ambulance driver with the Amin Ambulance service on Thursday said they had carried 17 deceased and 26 severely wounded individuals. One of those killed included a Syrian man.
According to Police Captain Mohamed Hussein, Two of the gunmen were shot dead and another 10 hostages were rescued from the scene of the incident. However, it is believed that five other armed gunmen were thought to remain inside and that they have managed to be successful in cutting off electricity to complicate the efforts of the security forces to end the siege.
Capt. Mohamed Hussein said heavy gunfire was heard and that the gunmen “were dressed in military uniforms.” Another witness stated “They forced those fleeing the site to go inside the restaurant” a man who identified himself as Nur Yasin told The Associated Press.
The late-night blast destroyed much of the infrastructure around the scene of the explosion which complicated efforts to assert the total number of hostages and wounded. Chaos has erupted as due to the explosion fire crews are also struggling with a massive blaze that was ignited as a result.
The extremist group known as al-Shabab claimed responsibility to have attacked the neighboring Posh Treats restaurant, which is frequented by the city’s highest elites and was damaged in the blast, security officials said the Pizza House was targeted instead creating confusion as to whom may actually be responsible.
The commandos and security forces who were dispatched to the scene were able to have rescued Asian, Ethiopian, Kenyan and other migrant workers at the Posh Treats restaurant as the attack is still ongoing, Hussein said.
Having a reputation for such extreme terrorism, the Somalia-based al-Shabab typically targets such high-profile areas of Mogadishu, including hotels, military checkpoints, and areas near the Presidential Palace.
In recent months it has broadcast via social media and flyers that it promised to step up attacks ever since the newly elected government launched a new military offensive operation to destroy their brand of extremism.
The Terrorist group Al-Shabab last year became the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa, with more than 4,200 people killed in 2016. These numbers top ISIS on the continent of Africa for being the most severe Muslim Extremist group according to the Washington-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies.
Their reign of terror has drawn so much attention that President Donald Trump approved new operations, including airstrikes, against al-Shabab. Just this past Sunday the U.S. military in Africa said it had launched an airstrike in southern Somalia that killed eight Islamic extremists at a rebel command and logistics camp known to gave terrorist operations and coordination with Al-Shabab.
President Trump has coordinated with Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed with the promise to end the genocidal reign of Islamic Terrorism that's plaguing much of the region.
The United States has said that now such a newly elected federal government has been established, it would continue to apply the pressure growing on Somalia’s military to assume full responsibility for the country’s security. It has a massive force prepared under the new leadership comprised of a 22,000-strong African Union multinational force, AMISOM.
AMISOM prior to the election for the new central government plans to start withdrawing in 2018 and leave by the end of 2020. The United Nations has recently considered furthering their support for the forces in the region.
On Wednesday the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a brand new resolution which promises to extend the U.N. political mission into the Horn of Africa nation. The nation itself is struggling in trying to rebuild after more than two decades as a failed state.
The new resolution will assist until March 31, 2018. The resolution recognized that “this is a critical moment for Somalia.” Under a new American leadership of President Donald Trump and a revised cooperation agreement to eliminate the global threat of Radical Islamic Terror, there is, however, hope for a better tomorrow.