At least seven people were killed after two car bombs exploded outside a popular Mogadishu hotel Wednesday, and gunmen forced their way inside the building and opened fire, police said.
The attack, claimed by the Al-Qaeda-aligned Shabaab insurgent group, began when a car loaded with explosives rammed the gate of the Dayah Hotel near the Somali parliament and state house.
Gunmen then stormed the hotel and exchanged fire with security guards, 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.
“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,” said Mohammed.
“Two gunmen were killed and the area is under control of security forces,” he said.
The Shabaab group 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,” read the statement.
The Shabaab is fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government of Somalia and regularly stages deadly attacks on state, military and civilian targets in the capital and elsewhere in the war-torn country.
There has been an uptick in attacks on Mogadishu during a drawn-out process to elect a new government.
The hotel attack is the deadliest so far in 2017.