Nine dead after gunmen storm Somalia hotel

  • 11/07/2015
Residents and security officers gather in front of a hotel that was attacked in Mogadishu, Somalia (AAP)
Residents and security officers gather in front of a hotel that was attacked in Mogadishu, Somalia (AAP)

Somalia's Al-Shabab militants have stormed two hotels in the capital Mogadishu, killing at least five people, before they were themselves killed in heavy fighting, security forces say.

At least one suicide bomber used a car packed with explosives on Friday (local time) to smash open the gates of one of the two hotels, both fortified, guarded, and popular with lawmakers from the nearby parliament, as well as government workers and businessmen.

The twin attacks on the Weheliye and Siyaad were simultaneous and apparently coordinated, with Al-Shabab fighters hurling grenades amid intense gunfire.

Mortar rounds were also fired at Mogadishu's former main football stadium, now a key base of African Union troops, security officials said. There were no reports of casualties in that attack.

Somalia's National Intelligence and Security Agency later declared the attacks over, adding that at least four militants had been killed. Witnesses said at least a dozen people were wounded.

However, an AFP reporter said gunfire continued around the Siyaad hotel, and it remained unclear if all the gunmen had been stopped.

Security official Mohamed Ali said five civilians and security guards were killed in the Weheliye attack, but no information was given for possible casualties at the other hotel.

The security agency said the gunmen were Al-Shabab fighters, calling them "Ugus", the government term for the militants, an acronym in Somali for the phrase, "the group that massacres the Somali people."

Al-Shabab insurgents have carried out repeated attacks in the area, and messages posted on websites close to the Al-Qaeda-linked group said the Islamists claimed responsibility for the hotel raids.

The Islamic militants have stepped up their attacks during Islam's holy fasting month of Ramadan, and the Friday raids came as people settled down to break their daylight fast.

Al-Shabab is fighting to overthrow Somalia's Western-backed government which is propped up and protected by the 22,000-strong African Union force.