Gunmen raided a hotel in Somalia’s capital after detonating a car bomb outside the building Friday, killing at least six people and sparking a gunbattle with security forces, a police officer at the scene said.
Security forces and the assailants still were exchanging gunfire at the Makka Al Mukarama hotel in Mogadishu early Friday evening, police Capt. Ahmed Abdi said.
Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility the attack. An Al-Shabaab spokesman, Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Musab, said the group’s fighters were conducting an operation against what he said are spies and government officials.
The attack started when a car bomb exploded at the hotel’s entrance, according to witness Aden Hussein, who said he was meters away from the hotel when the blast happened.
Gunmen then went inside the hotel, spraying people with bullets, Hussein said.
One of the attackers, wearing a belt with explosives, blew himself up inside the hotel, causing an undetermined number of casualties, Abdi said.
The hotel, which is along a highway leading to the country’s presidential palace, is popular with lawmakers, journalists and business people.