At least eight people were confirmed dead on Saturday as security forces battled Islamist militants who stormed a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu, a security commander said.
"The security forces continued to neutralise terrorists who have been cordoned inside a room in the hotel building, most of the people were rescued but at least eight civilians were confirmed dead so far," said the official, Mohamed Abdikadir.
Al-Shabaab fighters attacked the hotel Mogadishu in a hail of gunfire and explosions on August 19, 2022, with casualties reported, security sources and witnesses said.
The assault on the Hayat Hotel triggered a fierce gunfight between security forces and gunmen from the jihadist group who are still holed up inside the building, security official Abdulkadir Hassan told AFP.
Security forces say two massive car bombs exploded immediately, followed by armed militants' ambush on the hotel.
According to local media, at around 7pm, three consecutive explosions rocked the Hayat Hotel.
The popular hotel, located at KM4 junction, is frequented by lawmakers and other government authorities and some are believed to still trapped within the hotel
Police have cordoned off the area as gunfire continues inside the hotel building.
Unverified images posted on social media show smoke billowing from the hotel as Al Shabaab claims responsibility for the ongoing attack.
In a statement, the militia group claimed its fighters had "taken control of the hotel" and are "spraying bullets inside."
"A group of Al-Shabaab attackers forcibly entered Hotel Hayat in Mogadishu, the fighters are carrying out random shooting inside the hotel," the terror group claimed online.
Additional reporting by AFP