Al-Shabab gunmen have taken control of a hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Several explosions and gunfire were heard outside the building.
Al-Shabab fighters have taken control of a hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on Friday.
“Two car bombs targeted Hotel Hayat. One hit a barrier near the hotel, and then the other hit the gate of the hotel. We believe the fighters are inside the hotel,” a police officer who gave his name as only Ahmed, told the Reuters news agency.
The assault triggered a fierce gunfight between security forces and the gunmen who were holed up inside the building, security official Abdukadir Hassan told the AFP news agency.
“We don’t have the details so far but there are casualties, and the security forces are now engaging with the enemy who are holed up inside the building,” he added.
Unverified images posted on social media show smoke billowing from the hotel that is a popular venue with lawmakers and other government officials. There are also reports of sporadic gunfire.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility
The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi group statements.
“A group of Al-Shabaab attackers forcibly entered Hotel Hayat in Mogadishu, the fighters are carrying out random shooting inside the hotel,” the terror group claimed online.
Al-Shabab attacks Mogadishu frequently and said it was behind an attack on another hotel in the capital in August 2020 in which at least 16 people were killed.
The militant group aims to topple the Somali government, and before a large-scale offensive against the militant group in 2011, it controlled most of the country.
This is a developing news story, more details to come.
lo/sms (Reuters, AFP)