MOGADISHU, Somalia, Jun 25 – At least five people were killed Saturday in an attack on a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu that was swiftly claimed by Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabaab militants.
The assault, the latest by the Shabaab group targeting hotels and restaurants in recent months, was led by a suicide attacker driving a car laden with explosives, the jihadists said in an online statement.
As night fell in Mogadishu, sporadic gunfire could still be heard coming from the Naasa Hablood hotel after it was stormed by the militants, witnesses said.
“What we know is that there were at least five victims, including three security guards, and that six others were injured,” police official Ibrahim Mohamed said.
“The security forces have managed to enter into the hotel and are in the process of restoring security,” Mohamed added.
The attack began at 4:30pm (1330 GMT) with a powerful blast followed by two other explosions and then heavy gunfire, AFP journalists and a witness said.
The Naasa Hablood hotel in southern Mogadishu is often used by politicians and members of the Somali Diaspora visiting the city.
Somali security forces cordoned off access to the neighbourhood in which the hotel is located, an AFP photographer said.
The Shabaab swiftly claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement on the Telegram Smartphone app that jihadist gunmen had forced their way into the hotel.
“The attack started with a heavy blast carried out by a brother who drove a car loaded with explosives. Gunmen fought their way into the hotel, and we believe that casualties were inflicted in the enemy’s ranks,” the Shabaab said.