News World Seven people killed as Islamist insurgents attack Somali hotel
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Seven people killed as Islamist insurgents attack Somali hotel

Medical workers and other Somalis help a civilian woman, who was wounded when a powerful car bomb blew off the security gates to the Elite Hotel. Photo: AAP
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Militants have stormed a high-end seaside hotel in the capital of Somalia, killing at least seven people and injuring more than 20.

The incident was the second attack by Islamist insurgents on a highly fortified target in Mogadishu this week.

Militant group al Shabaab claimed the attack on the Elite Hotel in Lido beach, which started with a suicide car bombing.

Its gunmen later battled security forces.

The hotel is owned by Abdullahi Mohamed Nor, a lawmaker and ex-finance minister and frequented by many government officials, government workers and people from the Somali diaspora.

“There were officials of (President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo’s) government inside the hotel when we attacked,” said a statement broadcast on al Shabaab’s Radio Andalus.

The attack follows an uprising at Mogadishu’s central prison on Monday. State news agency SONNA reported that at least 15 prisoners and four guards were killed when Somali security forces beat back the rebellion.

A witness, Ahmed Ali, said on Sunday he had heard “a huge blast at the hotel, gunfire followed, and then clouds of smoke”.

“So far we confirmed seven people died, including two attackers, two junior directors and three civilians,” information ministry spokesman Ismail Mukhtar Omar told Reuters.

“Fifteen people were injured and the operation is still going on.”

Somalia has been embroiled in deadly violence since 1991, when clan warlords overthrew leader Siad Barre and then turned on each other.

Since 2008, al Shabaab has been fighting to overthrow the internationally-recognised central government and establish its rule based on its own interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.