The assailants targeted the popular Nasa-Hablod hotel located near the presidential palace and frequented by Somalia’s politicians and local elites. Al-Shabab extremist group claimed responsibility for the attack, adding that its fighters are still inside the hotel.
A local police officer told Reuters that fighting is underway in the building. Captain Mohamed Hussein, a local police officer, also told AP that a senior Somali police official and a former lawmaker were among the dead.
At least three armed men in military uniforms rushed towards the hotel immediately after the blast at its gates, a witness who survived the explosion told AP, adding that he believes they were Al-Shabab fighters who stormed the building.
The attack came two weeks after Somalia’s deadliest attack in a decade, which claimed the lives of more than 300 people. On October 14, two car bomb explosions rocked Somalia’s capital. The first and the most devastating explosion took place near the Safari Hotel located close to the foreign ministry in the busy city center. No group has claimed responsibility for that attack.
Al-Shabaab Islamist group has staged regular attacks on Mogadishu since 2011 when it was pushed out of the city it controlled since 2006 by the African Union (AU) and Somali forces. The extremists also repeatedly targeted army bases and communities across the southern and central parts of Somalia.