Mogadishu, Somalia (CNN) – At least 15 people have been killed after unidentified gunmen stormed an upscale hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on Friday evening, officials said, following gunfire and large explosions in the area.
Ahmed Abdi, a doctor at Madina Hospital, said that the death toll was likely to rise and many victims were in critical condition. Madina is one of the two major hospitals in Mogadishu where most of the victims from Hayat Hotel attack were admitted to.
The hospital is still receiving bodies and more wounded people, Abdi said.
Police Major Farah Hussein confirmed to CNN that Somali security forces had enter the Hayat Hotel building and regained most of the control from gunmen. The area is 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.
CNN’s Oren Liebermann contributed reporting