At least 13 people have been killed in a coordinated gun-and-bomb attack carried out by al-Shabab near a popular hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, according to police.
The assault on Wednesday morning began when attackers rammed an explosives-packed car into the gate of Dayah Hotel, which is near Somalia’s parliament in central Mogadishu, and then stormed inside exchanging fire with security guards.
A second massive blast went off after ambulances and journalists had arrived at the scene, leaving at least four reporters wounded, according to AFP news agency.
“At least 13 people, including forces and civilians, died in two blasts at the hotel. A dozen others were injured,” Major Mohamed Ahmed, a police officer, told Reuters news agency, adding that the death toll could rise.
The powerful explosions shattered dozens of windows and damaged cars parked near the hotel, witnesses said.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a report by Andalus radio, which is linked to the armed group.
“Well-armed mujahideen [fighters] attacked the hotel and now they are fighting inside the hotel,” the report said.
Dozens of people, including members of Somalia’s parliament, were thought to have been in the hotel at the time of the attack, Captain Mohamed Hussein told The Associated Press news agency.
The hotel is popular with politicians, government officials and entrepreneurs.
Al-Shabab has carried out a series of deadly attacks in Somalia to try to topple the country’s western-backed government.