Al-Shabaab extremists storm Mogadishu hotel, killing 9

DEVELOPING: An Al-Shabaab suicide bomber blew up a car at the gate of a Mogadishu hotel Friday afternoon, and government officials were believed to be trapped inside the building where at least nine people were killed, local police said.

Gunfire could be heard inside the Maka-Mukarramah Hotel, and police said members of the terrorist group were inside the hotel. Al-Shabaab claimed credit for the attack even as gunfighting continued at the compound, where at least a dozen were injured and the death toll was expected to rise.

“Al-Shabaab fighters are on the top of the building and inside the hotel.”

– Police Major Ismail Olow

“We are behind the Hotel Maka Al Mukaram attack and fighting is still going on inside the hotel,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al-Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, told Reuters.

Police were swarming the building, a hotel frequented by top government officials.

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Somali soldiers stand near the wreckage at the scene of a car bomb attack in Mogadishu, Somalia. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

“Al-Shabaab fighters are on the top of the building and inside the hotel,” Police Major Ismail Olow told Reuters. “Some government officials are inside the hotel.”

The attack came a day after an Al-Shabaab top commander and three other suspected militants were captured by Somali security forces Thursday, a Somali senior intelligence officer told African news site News24.

Security forces raided an Al-Shabaab hideout in northern Mogadishu, seizing weapons, ammunition, and explosives.

Although the commander has not yet been identified, am investigation is underway. Authorities believe the commander masterminded several suicide attacks or assassinations in Mogadishu in recent months, an anonymous source said.

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Government spokesperson Ridwan Hagi Abdiwali confirmed that the four were captured Thursday and said the government would release full information soon.

Al-Shabaab issued no comment on the arrests.

Al-Shabaab—which believes in the strictest application of Islamic law– has killed dozens of people in suicide attacks in Mogadishu this year. The Maka Al Mukaram Hotel has been the site of several deadly car bombings in recent years. Two weeks ago, a car bomb exploded outside the hotel, killing two people.