At least 10 people were killed in an attack by Islamic militants who stormed a hotel in Somalia's capital late Friday, police and eyewitnesses said.
Several other people were injured and security forces rescued many others, including children, from the scene of the attack at Mogadishu's Hayat Hotel, they said.
The attack started with explosions outside the hotel before gunmen entered the building.
Gunfire could still be heard early Saturday as security forces tried to contain the last gunmen, who were thought to be holed up in the hotel. It was unclear how many militants remained on the hotel’s top floor.
There was no immediate word on the identities of the victims.
"We were having tea near the hotel lobby when we heard the first blast followed by gunfire. I immediately rushed toward hotel rooms on the ground floor, and I locked," said eyewitness Abdullahi Hussein.
“The militants went straight upstairs and started shooting. I was inside the room until the security forces arrived and rescued me.”
He said that on his way to safety he saw “several bodies lying on the ground outside hotel.
Who is behind the latest Mogadishu attack?
The Islamic extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest of its frequent attempts to strike places that are often visited by government officials.
Shebab have been engaged in a 15-year insurgency against Somalia's federal government.
"A group of Shebab attackers forced their way into the Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu, with fighters firing randomly inside the hotel," the group wrote in a brief statement on a pro-Shebab website.
The Shebab were driven out of the country's main cities, including Mogadishu in 2011, but they remain entrenched in large rural areas. In recent months, they have stepped up their attacks.