“The operation is over,” police officer, Major Mohamed Abdi, told Reuters news agency by telephone from Kismayu.
“So far we know 13 people died. Many people have been rescued. The four attackers were shot dead,” he added.
Members of the al-Qaeda-linked group stormed the hotel after detonating a car bomb on Friday while local elders and legislators met to discuss approaching regional elections.
Politicians and journalists were among the dead.
“The operation was concluded at 7 am. We know at least 14 people died including journalists and [local election] candidates. These are the prominent people. The death toll is sure to rise,” local elder Ahmed Abdulle stated.
Authorities on Friday announced a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into the popular Medina hotel, which was followed by a gun battle.
A journalists’ group confirmed two journalists were among the dead; Somali-Canadian Hodan Naleyah, founder of Integration TV, and Mohamed Sahal Omar, a reporter from SBC TV in Kismayo.
“We are saddened and outraged by this loss of life, and condemn in the strongest possible terms this appalling massacre,” Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, general secretary of the Federation of Somali Journalists, said in a statement.
Security Official Abdiweli Mohamed noted that heavily armed attackers forced their way inside the hotel, shooting as they went.
“Several gunmen entered and started shooting but the security forces responded quickly and engaged in a gunfight with the attackers inside the building,” he added.
Al-Shabab, which is trying to topple the Somali government, announced it carried out the suicide attack.
“First, we targeted [the hotel] with a suicide car bomb and then armed mujahideen [fighters] stormed the hotel,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab’s military operations spokesman, stated, adding, “There are many dead bodies inside the hotel, including a dead white man.”
Hussein Nur, a shopkeeper in Kismayo, noted, “There were many people including officials and elders, mostly from one clan, who were discussing the coming Kismayo election.”
Nur was referring to elections in the city due sometime in August.
Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire condemned the attack, according to state-run Somali National News Agency.
Al-Shabab was driven from the capital, Mogadishu, in 2011 and has since been eliminated from most of its other strongholds. In 2012, it was pushed out of Kismayo, whose port had been a major source of revenue for the group.
Outside of Kismayo, al-Shabab still controls parts of Jubbaland, a region in Southern Somalia.
The armed group remains a major security threat, with its fighters frequently carrying out bombings in Somalia and neighbouring Kenya, whose troops form part of the African Union-mandated peacekeeping force that helps defend the Somali government.