A hotel in Somalia’s capital has been hit by an explosion and an attack by jihadist rebels, police have confirmed.
A vehicle loaded with explosives crashed into the entrance gate of the Afrik Hotel, near Mogadishu’s strategic K-4 junction, on Sunday afternoon, police spokesperson Sadiq Adan Ali said.
A number of armed gunmen then quickly invaded the hotel, opening fire on staff and patrons inside, he said. Government forces responded to the attack, and gunfire could be heard coming from the hotel. Police rescued many people from the hotel, including its owner and an army general.
At least seven wounded civilians could be seen, although police did not immediately give casualty figures.
Al-Shabaab, Somalia’s homegrown jihadist rebel group, claimed responsibility for the attack through its Andalus radio station.
In this image made from video, people flee from the area as gunshots are heard on a street near the Afrik Hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, on Sunday. (The Associated Press)
“We know, they have changed nothing from their usual tactic, ramming explosives into a building and following up, assaulting with rifles,” Ali said.
In a separate incident, at least eight children have died and scores of others were wounded when a bomb went off in the Golweyn area, about 40 kilometres north of the coastal town of Merca, some 120 kilometres south of Mogadishu.
Smoke billows from the scene of the explosion in what’s known as the Kilometre-4 area of Mogadishu. (Feisal Omar/Reuters)