At least five people were killed and more than 10 others were injured on Sunday after gunmen stormed a beachside hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, after a car bomb, believed to be targeting the establishment, exploded, a government security official said.
The explosion at the Elite Hotel in Lido beach was followed by heavy gunfire inside the hotel which is usually frequented by government officials, government workers and people from the diaspora.
Ahmed Omar told AFP that the authorities feared the death toll could be higher due to the devastating effect of the explosion and an unknown number of people being trapped inside the hotel where the gunmen went.
“There is still sporadic gunfire and the initial information we have received indicates five people died and more than 10 others were wounded. The death toll can increase because the blast was massive and there is a hostage situation involved,” Omar said.
An eyewitness told Reuters that the government has deployed security forces near the beach.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack as yet. Al-Shabaab, the Islamist group which operates in Somalia, however, has frequently carried out such attacks in the past.
Al-Shabaab has waged a war against Somalia’s central government for several years in a bid to oust it and establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.