Police Major Hassan Dahir confirmed to CNN that a gun battle was taking place between gunmen and Somali security forces at the Hayat Hotel in Somalia’s capital, in an area frequented by lawmakers and government officials.
Two security officials, including Mogadishu intelligence chief Muhidin Mohamed, were wounded in the ongoing attack, Dahir said. Details remained murky, however, as the siege continued.
The Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on its affiliated online sites, saying its fighters managed to take over the hotel after blasting their way into the building. CNN has not independently confirmed the claim.
A US airstrike on Sunday killed 13 members of the al-Shabaab group, according to a statement by US Africa Command earlier this week. It is unclear if the Friday attack is connected to that strike.
In May, US President Joe Biden decided to redeploy troops to Somalia in support of the local government and to counter al-Shabaab. The move reversed a decision by former President Donald Trump to withdraw all US troops from the country.