The Somali government says the attack is quote, a wake-up call and that Al-Shabaab has declared war on ordinary people.
At exactly 8 pm local time in downtown Mogadishu, an explosion went off.
That blast was a suicide car bombing outside a hotel, the start of the attack… and then gunfire, as five militants forced their way into a restaurant.
They took more than twenty hostages and it would be eleven hours before the killing ended.
Among the dead, three young girls from the same family and some bodies, burned beyond recognition.
“The enemy today killed young girls – less than 18 years old – that should be a wake up call [that] Al-Shabaab is no longer targeting government institutions, it’s not fighting our military but is fighting the Somali population,” said Mohamed Ahmed Arab, part of the Somalia Security Ministry.
It’s the first major attack since the start of the holy month of Ramadan – it came just as people were breaking their fast.
“Where I am standing right now is where the car bomb detonated,” Abdulaziz Billow reported from Mogadishu.
“Behind me hundreds have come to seek missing friends and relatives”.
Somalia’s government has been stepping up security in the capital in recent days.
But experts say Somalia must change its tactics – taking the war to Al-Shabaab, rather than waiting for another attack.