The United Nations Security Council has condemned Sunday's attack by Somali militant group al-Shabab on a Mogadishu hotel. The attack left at least 12 people dead, including the owner of the hotel, a military commander and two lawmakers.
The council praised the response by Somalia's army, which killed all of the attackers, and stated that "terrorism in all its forms and manifestations" is one of the most serious threats to global peace.
"The members of the Security Council reiterated their determination to support Somalia's transition to greater peace and stability. They underlined that neither this, nor any other terrorist attack would weaken that determination."
Authorities said militants set off a car bomb Sunday morning at the entrance of the Sahafi Hotel. Gunmen then stormed the site, which is popular with government officials and business executives.
Somali Security Minister Abdirizak Omar Mohamed told VOA the attackers were wearing Burundian military uniforms. Burundi is one of the countries with troops in AMISOM, the African Union mission in Somalia.
“One attacker hit the front gate of the hotel from his car and then five other al-Shabab insurgents followed. They were carrying AK-47s and hand grenades,” Mohamed said.
“They were aiming at inflicting heavy casualties to the hotel residents who were mainly officials from the government, parliament members and ministers. Unfortunately, Somali security forces were not able to intervene early enough to prevent it from happening,” he added.
With a second explosion outside the hotel 20 minutes after the first one, Mohamed said that it took longer than the Somali forces expected (about five hours) to retake the hotel from the militants. None of the attackers have been identified so far. But investigation is under way.
Among those killed was General Abdikarim Yusuf Dhagabadan, a former army commander who led the offensive that forced al-Shabab to retreat from Mogadishu in August 2011. General Dhagabadan previously survived several al-Shabab attempts on his life.
Al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu-Musab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement Sunday.
In recent months, al-Shabab has blown up another Mogadishu hotel, overrun three African Union peacekeepers' bases in Somalia and detonated a bomb on the grounds of Somalia's presidential palace.
The groups controlled most of southern Somalia as recently as 2010, but was pushed into the countryside by African Union and Somali government forces. The militants carry out frequent attacks, often targeting government officials and African Union troops.
The group seeks to impose a strict form of Islamic law on the country and has frequently beheaded, stoned to death or amputated the limbs of people accused of various crimes.
VOA's Somali service contributed to this report.