Several people have been killed after attackers fought their way into a hotel in Mogadishu. The jihadist group Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack in the Somali capital.
Police said that at least seven people had been killed after two car bombs exploded outside the Dayah Hotel on Wednesday and gunmen forced their way inside the building before opening fire, according to police official Ibrahim Mohammed.
A second massive blast went off after ambulances and journalists had already rushed to the scene, leaving at least four reporters injured, including an photographer from the French news agency AFP who suffered shrapnel wounds.
"So far we have counted about seven dead, most of them civilians and security guards. There are also many people who were wounded in the two blasts," Mohammed said.
"Two gunmen were killed and the area is under control of security forces," he said.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility in a statement distributed on its Telegram messaging account. "The mujahideen fighters have attacked a hotel and have managed to enter the hotel after detonating a car loaded with explosives," it said.
Dozens of people, including members of parliament, were thought to have been staying at the hotel at the time of the morning attack. The Dayah Hotel is popular among businesspeople and government officials.
In June, gunmen stormed the Nasa-Hablod hotel, killing at least 14 people. Two weeks before that, gunmen killed 15, including two members of parliament, at the Ambassador Hotel.
Al-Shabab is fighting to impose a strict version of Islam in the Horn of Africa nation.
Despite being ousted from most of its key strongholds, the group continues to carry out deadly guerrilla attacks across large parts of south and central Somalia.
The assaults have threatened the nation's attempts to rebuild after decades of chaos.
The presidential election has also been delayed several times because of security and other concerns.
jbh/sms (AP, dpa)