Somali authorities said on Thursday at least 16 people were killed and 55 wounded in a car bomb and gun attack on a hotel in the centre of Mogadishu where sporadic gunfire could still be heard on Thursday.
Islamist militant group al Shabaab, affiliated with al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Hotel Ambassador. Two lawmakers were among the dead.
“So far we have confirmed 16 people, mostly civilians, died and 55 others were injured,” Major Nur Mohamed, a police officer, told Reuters on Thursday.
He said gunfire had died down at the hotel. “We suspect the roof top is not safe. Security forces are inside from the first to fourth floor.”
Government forces have blocked off all the main roads near the hotel.
Reuters witnesses said sporadic gunfire could still be heard at the five-storey building which has been extensively damaged.
Relatives were gathering at hospitals and at the hotel searching for loved ones, with some people believed trapped inside.
A Reuters witness heard one man on the fifth floor crying out: “Please rescue me.”
Al Shabaab was pushed out of Mogadishu by the African Union peacekeeping force AMISOM in 2011. But it has remained a potent threat in Somalia, launching frequent attacks aimed at overthrowing the Western-backed government.
Al Shabaab has also been behind deadly attacks in Kenya and Uganda. Both contribute troops to an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.