At least 20 people have been killed and several others, including Somalia's deputy prime minister, have been wounded in a suicide attack in the capital. Islamist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the blast.
A car bomber rammed the gates of a hotel in Mogadishu around lunchtime on Friday, before a suicide bomber blew himself up inside the hotel compound. News agencies reported that at least six people were killed in the attack.
"We are behind the attack. We targeted government officials in the hotel, this is part of our operation in Mogadishu," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab's military operations spokesman, told Reuters news agency.
The extremists claimed to be targeting MPs for permitting the deployment of foreign African Union troops on Somali soil.
Between 2007 and 2011, the al Qaeda-linked group controlled much of Mogadishu, but was pushed out of Somalia's capital and other major cities by African Union forces.
Following the twin attacks, police reported gunfire after several militants stormed the hotel where various government ministers and lawmakers had gathered.
"There were ministers and legislators inside the hotel. I have seen many people with injuries, including a lawmaker," police Major Nur Mohamed told Reuters news agency.
Among those injured was Somali Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed Omar Arte.
A senior security official, Mohamed Hassan, told the German Press Agency that the victims had been preparing for Friday prayers at a mosque inside the hotel.
Friday's attack was the second of its kind on a hotel in Mogadishu in less than a month. On January 22, three Somali nationals were killed when a suicide car bomber blew himself up at the gate of a hotel housing the advance party of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who visited the country days later.
ksb/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)