Al Shabaab attacks hotels in Somali capital, six civilians killed

MOGADISHU: At least six civilians and four militants were killed when al Shabaab Islamists attacked two hotels in the centre of the Somali capital Mogadishu on Friday, police said.

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack on the Wehliya Hotel and said it had also laid siege to another hotel in the city, the Siyad, where gunfire continued into the night near the presidential palace.

"Three fighters have been shot dead and another blew himself up inside the car bomb that hit the gate. The operation here is finished. So far we know six civilians died," Umar Ali, a police officer, told Reuters from near Wehliya hotel.The hotel is frequented by top government officials but the identity of the dead was not immediately clear.

Mohamed Osman, a guest at the Wehliya who was breaking his Ramadan fast at a restaurant inside when the attack began, said he had been shot in the leg.

Another police officer, who gave his name as Abdirahman, confirmed the Siyad was also under attack.

"We understand operation in the Siyad hotel has not been completed," he said, adding details of any casualties there were not yet available.

Residents in the area said there was heavy gunfire and explosions coming from the hotel.