The attackers exploded a car at the hotel gate before a gun battle erupted
The hotel is frequented by Somali government officials, lawmakers and security officers
Gunmen stormed a hotel in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Saturday after detonating a car filled with explosives at the hotel gate – an attack that has left at least 15 people dead and 25 others injured, police said.
Following the car explosion, someone blew themselves up inside the Naso Hablod hotel as gunmen stormed the building, Somali police Capt. Aden Dahir said. Police responded and engaged in a gunbattle with the suspects for several hours, Dahir said.
The Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack on its main broadcaster, Radio Andalus.
Most of those killed and injured were civilians who were passersby and customers of nearby shops and a gas station, police said.
The hotel is frequented by Somali government officials, lawmakers and security officers, Dahir said.
Video on Twitter showed an ambulance, sirens blaring, speeding away from scene amid the sound of gunfire.
The attack comes three weeks after suspected Al-Shabaab gunmen set off an explosion and stormed another popular Mogadishu hotel, killing at least 13 people, according to security officials. Three attackers were also killed.
The June 1 siege occurred at the Ambassador Hotel, a popular spot for Somali politicians and Westerners.
Two members of parliament, Mohamed Mohamud Gurre and Abdullahi Jama, were among those killed at the Ambassador, the Somali National News Agency reported at the time. The siege ended early the next day.
Al-Shababb has used the tactic before in several assaults, including an attack at the Sahafi Hotel in the capital last year that left 15 people dead.
The militants want to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state.
The group has been blamed for attacks in Somalia that have killed international aid workers, journalists, civilian leaders and African Union peacekeepers.
CNN’s Ray Sanchez wrote from New York and journalist Omar Nor reported from Mogadishu.