An attack in a Somali hotel by the insurgent militant group al-Shabab on Friday has left over 21 people dead and hundreds injured in the worst hotel siege in recent memory, and a show of strength by the al-Qaeda-affiliated group to the country’s government.

The attack on Mogadishu's Hayat Hotel, which started on Friday night, lasted 30 hours as government forces moved to recapture the hotel from militant group al-Shabab, with over 21 people confirmed to have died in the incident–and the death toll believed to be higher due to the possibility that family members collected the dead bodies before authorities could count them, according to the BBC.

“I would like to inform all Somalis that the operation at the hotel was concluded at midnight,” police Commander Abdi Hassan Mohammed Hijra said. “It is shocking that innocent people lost their lives here... The security forces were engaged in rescuing the people one by one and in groups.”

When the attack first began, al-Shabab mounted a gun-and-bomb approach in taking control of the hotel. While the number of attackers remains unclear, four militants were killed during the operation to take back the hotel, al-Jazeera reported.

“The ministry of health has so far confirmed the deaths of 21 people and 117 people wounded,” Health Minister Ali Haji Adan said. “It is possible there were corpses that were not taken to hospitals but buried by relatives. The death toll and the casualties are based on the figure taken to hospitals.”

The continued influence of al-Shabab in the area has troubled local officials for years now. While the local government was able to take control of the capital of Somalia in 2011, the al-Qaeda-affiliated group continued to terrorize the country and has continued to launch attacks in the countryside in a bid to expand their control of the area.

“These hotels are usually attacked because that’s areas where government officials congregate. A lot of meetings, a lot of activities, especially right now, with the new government coming into place and setting up a lot of its appointments and its positions,” Omar Mahmood, a senior analyst for Eastern Africa, said.

“What is really baffling is that they are able to carry out these multiple attacks so successfully. It is something the security sector of Somalia needs to deal with, and also it’s a regional threat. Shabab is not just a Somali problem, it’s a regional problem. It is a global organization,” Somalia analyst Hodan Ali said.

A militant group in Somalia held siege to a hotel in Mogadishu on Friday, causing a 30-hour confrontation with authorities that ended with over 21 people dead. HASSAN ALI ELMI/Getty Images.

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