MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — The extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility Sunday for an unfolding armed attack on a hotel in the Somali capital.
Al-Shabab said in a broadcast on its own radio frequency Sunday that said its fighters attacked the hotel Villa Rose, which has a restaurant popular with government and security officials.
Abdi Hassan, a government worker who lives near the hotel, told the Associated Press that he believes several government officials were inside the hotel when the attack started. Some were seen jumping the perimeter wall to safety while others were rescued, he said.
The hotel isn't far from the presidential palace in central Mogadishu, where a blast was heard, followed by gunfire.
There was no immediate word on any casualties. Such militant attacks are common in Mogadishu and other parts of the Horn of Africa nation.
Last month at least 120 people were killed in two car bombings at a busy junction in Mogadishu. Al-Shabab, which doesn't usually claim responsibility when its assaults result in a high civilian death toll, is believed to have carried out that attack, the deadliest since a similar attack at the same spot killed more than 500 five years ago.
Al-Shabab opposes Somalia's federal government, which is backed by African Union peacekeepers, and seeks to take power and enforce a strict version of Sharia law.
The United States has described al-Shabab as one of al-Qaida’s deadliest organizations and targeted it with scores of airstrikes in recent years. Hundreds of U.S. military personnel have returned to the country after former president Donald Trump withdrew them.
Omar Faruk, The Associated Press