Deadly attack on Somalia restaurant in Mogadishu

Islamic extremists attacked a popular Somalia restaurant in an overnight siege and killed dozens of  people — many at point-blank range — before they were slain by security forces, police said Thursday.

Survivors described harrowing scenes of hiding under tables and behind curtains as the five gunmen hunted for victims in the darkened Pizza House restaurant. Nearly 40 people were wounded.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, which began Wednesday evening with a car bomb exploding at the gate to the restaurant and ended when troops secured the site after dawn, said senior police Capt. Mohamed Hussein.

“I never thought I would have the chance to see the sun again. They were killing people on sight,” university student Saida Hussein told The Associated Press. She said she survived by hiding behind a large table.

Soldiers in gun-mounted vehicles surrounded the building, and troops later entered the ground floor as al-Shabab snipers defended their positions upstairs. The battle to end the siege was hampered by darkness, Hussein said.

The bodies of five girls believed to have been killed by the extremists were found in the restaurant, police said. The body of a Syrian man who worked as a chef lay near a blood-spattered and bullet-marked wall.

The car bomb that began the attack blew the roofs off the restaurant and other nearby buildings. Many of the first victims were young men who had been entering the Pizza House when the bomb went off, Hussein said.

The extremists, appearing to pose as security forces, then rushed inside the restaurant. (AP)

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A soldier stands near wreakage

A Somali soldier stands near the wreckage from a car bomb blast and gun battle targeting a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia, Thursday, June 15, 2017. (Photo: Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP)

A mother grieves

A mother whose daughter was shot in the head by attackers during a militant attack on a restaurant, grieves in Mogadishu, Somalia Thursday, June 15, 2017. (Photo: Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP)

People stand outside the attack scene

People stand outside the scene of an attack on a hotel and an adjacent restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia June 15, 2017. (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)

Somali men carry a body

Somali men carry away the body of a civilian who was killed in a militant attack on a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia Thursday, June 15, 2017. (Photo: Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP)

People inspect the site

People inspect the site after bomb-laden vehicle attack by Al-Shabaab militants to a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia on June 15, 2017. (Photo: Saadaq Maxamed/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Destroyed vehicles

A member of Somalia’s security forces walks past destroyed vehicles at the scene of a car bomb blast and gun battle targeting a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia Thursday, June 15, 2017. (Photo: Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP)

A destroyed car at the site

A destroyed car is seen at the site after bomb-laden vehicle attack by Al-Shabaab militants to a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia on June 15, 2017. (Photo: Saadaq Maxamed/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Men carry away a body

Somali men carry away the body of a civilian who was killed in a militant attack on a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia Thursday, June 15, 2017. (Photo: Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP)

Somalis walk near destroyed vehicles

Somalis walk near destroyed vehicles at the scene of a car bomb blast and gun battle targeting a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia Thursday, June 15, 2017. (Photo: Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP)

View of the site

A view of the site after bomb-laden vehicle attack by Al-Shabaab militants to a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia on June 15, 2017.(Photo: Saadaq Maxamed/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A man stands outside the scene

A man stands outside the scene of an attack on a hotel and an adjacent restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia, June 15, 2017. (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)

Armed security forces at the scene

Armed security forces and rescue personnel are seen at the scene of an attack outside an hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, June 14, 2017. (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)

A wounded man is evacuated

In this image taken from video footage, a wounded man is evacuated from the scene of a blast in a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. (Photo: AP)

The explosion is seen in Mogadishu

An explosion is seen at the Pizza House restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia, June 14, 2017, in this picture obtained from social media. (Photo: Abdulaziz Billow Ali/via Reuters)

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