The blast outside of the gates of the Maka al-Mukarama hotel was followed by gunfire from members of the al-Shabaab terrorist group, which has already claimed responsibility for the attack.
— Mogadishu News (@MogadishuNews) March 27, 2015
— Somalia-America (@SomaliEmbassyUS) March 27, 2015
According to local media reports, the attackers have taken over the hotel, which is a popular destination for foreigners staying in the country, as well as local elites, including top Somali politicians.
— Abdirahman Hussein (@Abdi_AlSheikh) March 27, 2015
Yuusuf Bari-Bari, Somalia's ambassador to Switzerland, was among those killed in the attack.
Gunshots heard inside the hotel are believed to be executions, according to reports from the scene.
Meanwhile, Somalia's US-trained anti-terrorism unit, Gaashaan, and members of the African Union Mission to Somalia have surrounded the building. A rescue mission is underway, and Somali forces have pulled people, including politicians, from inside the hotel, Mogadishu News reported.
— David Sim (@davidsim) March 27, 2015
The attack comes hours after Somalia's internal security minister announced that the country's security forces had captured Ibrahim Afwayne, one of Shabab's top leaders.
On Thursday, officials in Uganda were boosting security over threats by al-Shabaab militants. Hours earlier, the US embassy in Kampala warned its citizens of a possible imminent terror attack.
In an emergency warning issued late Wednesday, the US mission in Kampala said it had “received information of possible terrorist threats to locations where Westerners, including US citizens, congregate in Kampala, and that an attack may take place soon.”