Huge explosion rocks hotel in Somali capital

Somali security officers secure the scene of a suicide car explosion at a checkpoint near the Somali Parliament building in Mogadishu, Somalia June 15, 2019 REUTERS/Feisal Omar

A huge explosion has occurred near a popular hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Witnesses say the massive blast occurred Sunday near Hotel Afrik, located in the vicinity of a busy security checkpoint en route to the Mogadishu airport. Militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility.

Police say al-Shabab members stormed the hotel but that most of the people inside were rescued, including Somalia’s former state minister for defense, Yusuf Siad Indha-Adde.

A VOA reporter, Abdikafi Yusuf Aden, was also inside the hotel at the time and survived.

Reports say an unknown number of Al Shabaab gunmen are still held up inside the Hotel and shooting at anything that moves, which in this case are the Hotel guests and staff.