Baku-APA. At least 10 people have died in an attack by Somalia's Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab militants on a hotel in the capital Mogadishu, Somali security officials said Friday, APA reports quoting AFP.
A car bomb explosion went off outside the Maka al Mukarama hotel, considered a high security facility and frequented by politicians, diplomats and businessmen, before around five heavily-armed gunmen stormed inside. Somalia's ambassador to Switzerland was among the dead, officials said.
"There are at least 10 people killed," a security source told AFP. He said Somali government special forces had entered the city centre hotel and were in the process of securing it after three hours of fierce fighting.
"All the attackers were killed and the situation is under control. The government's special forces have managed to penetrate the building and are now in full control," said another official, Mohamed Hassan.
He said at least nine bodies had been counted -- mostly members of hotel security and civilian guests -- but said security forces were still in the process of confirming the overall toll.
"Most of the dead are security guards who fought the attackers," a third official said.
The Shebab's spokesman, Abdulaziz Abu Musab, confirmed that the militants were behind the attack and said they had managed to quickly seize control of the hotel.
"The Mujahedeen fighters are conducting an operation targeting the heads of the apostates in Mogadishu," he told AFP, adding that members of Somalia's internationally-backed government were meeting inside at the time of the raid.
A car bombing followed by an armed raid has become a trademark tactic of the hardline Islamists, who are fighting to overthrown the Mogadishu government and eject African Union forces supporting it.