A series of bombs have rocked a hotel in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. Security forces are still involved in a siege with militants after several people were reported killed.
The death toll from the series of explosions in the Somali capital was reported to be between seven and 18, according to various sources. At least 30 people were said to be injured.
The attack started with what is assumed to have been a suicide car bomb detonated outside the Nasa-Hablod 2 Hotel near the presidential palace in Mogadishu. Two more blasts were heard in the area, with one reported as a suicide bombing.
Gunfire was heard from inside the hotel building, where up to 20 people, including government officials, were assumed to be holed up as part of a standoff between security forces and militants.
Speaking to the AP news agency by telephone, Captain Mohamed Hussein said that security forces were battling five extremists on the top floor of the hotel and that two of the attackers had been neutralized.
Hussein also confirmed that a senior Somali police colonel and a former lawmaker were among the dead.
Anger against al-Shabab
The al-Shabab extremist group has claimed responsibility for the attack and confirmed that its fighters were inside the hotel. The al-Qaida affiliated terrorist group has repeatedly targeted high-profile areas of Mogadishu over the years, including an attack in June 2016 on the sister hotel of the Nasa-Hablod 2, which saw 11 people killed.
Saturday's blast comes two weeks after more than 350 people were killed in a massive truck bombing on a busy Mogadishu street in what has been called the country's worst-ever attack.
Since that attack, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has vowed to eradicate the group, which is seeking to establish an Islamist state in Somalia. There has also been an unprecedented outpouring of public anger in the wake of the attack, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets calling for al-Shabab to be wiped out.
ss/jm (AP, AFP, dpa)