27 Feb 2016

Militants storm hotel in Somali capital

9:43 am on 27 February 2016

Militants have stormed a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu, leaving at least nine people dead, in an attack claimed by al-Shabab.

Residents help a man wounded during an attack in the center of Mogadishu on 26 February 2016.

Residents help a man wounded during the attack in the centre of Mogadishu. Photo: AFP

The attackers set off a car bomb outside the heavily fortified Somali Youth League (SYL) Hotel before moving in.

An explosion also targeted a popular park known as the Peace Garden. Police said the attack was now over, after they shot and killed four attackers.

Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda affiliate, is waging an armed insurgency in Somalia.

BBC correspondent Ibrahim Aden in Mogadishu heard a loud explosion on Friday evening (Somali time), followed by gunfire.

Forty minutes after the first car bomb went off, another explosion of the same magnitude was heard, he said.

Al-Shabab told the BBC they were "in control" of the hotel.

"We have attacked the SYL Hotel and we've forced our way into the hotel," they said.

However, one resident at the hotel said the gunmen had not managed to get inside and had been repelled by security guards.

The hotel, situated near the presidential palace, is popular with government personnel.

It is not unusual for al-Shabab to launch attacks in Mogadishu on Fridays, the first day of the Somali weekend.

The operation comes a day after a mortar attack on the presidential palace in Mogadishu in which three people were killed.

-BBC