Militants attack a hotel in the Somali port city of Kismayo
Gunmen stormed a hotel in the center of the Somali port city of Kismayo on Sunday, shortly after a car packed with explosives exploded outside the hotel, police said.
Officials said gunmen were still inside the Tawakal Hotel and security forces were at the scene. The extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attack began when a car driven by a suicide bomber slammed into the hotel’s front door and then exploded, police officer Abshir Omar told The Associated Press by phone. A number of small businesses along the street were destroyed.
Some government officials and traditional elders were having lunch at the hotel at the time of the blast, he said.
There was no word on the casualties.
Mohamed Nasi Guled, a senior Jubaland state police official, said three assailants entered the hotel premises. He vowed that the security forces would put an end to the attack.
The hotel is popular as a meeting place for government officials. Kismayo is located about 500 kilometers (310 miles) from the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Al-Shabab is said to have a strong presence in the vicinity of Kismayo, the largest city and commercial capital of Jubaland state.
Al-Shabab, which has links to al-Qaeda, regularly carries out attacks in the Horn of Africa nation.