Somali rebels, suspected to be al-Shabaab militants, have killed at least seven people after attacking a hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, with explosions and gunfire reported.
At least seven people were killed when militants have stormed a hotel in the centre of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
A fierce gunfight is taking place inside the popular Maka al-Mukarama hotel.
The militant Islamist group al-Shabaab has said that it carried out the attack, which started when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed car outside the building.
“We are behind the Hotel Maka al-Mukaram attack and fighting is still going on inside the hotel,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, told press.
Captain Ali Hussein, a police officer, said at least seven people had been killed and a dozen wounded in the attack. “Death toll is sure to rise,” he said.
Another, currently unverified, report listed the death toll of the attacks as nine, also mentioning dozens of injured.
Hotels in Mogadishu are often targeted by al-Shabaab militants, who were driven from the city several years ago but still control southern rural areas.
A car bomb went off outside the Maka al-Mukarama earlier this month – the al-Qaeda-linked militants also said they were behind that attack.
Many politicians and businessmen stay at the hotel as it is on the main road linking the presidential palace to the city’s airport.
Somalia has been ravaged by conflict for more than two decades.
But thousands of Somalis have been returning from abroad to help rebuild the country as security has improved in recent years.
African Union troops have been helping the UN-backed government retake territory from the militants.