Somali militants have attacked a hotel in the capital Mogadishu, local security forces have confirmed. A suicide bomber is believed to have detonated a truck bomb at the gate of the hotel which was then stormed by a group of heavily-armed men.
Captain Ali Ahmed of the Somali police force confirmed that suspected members of al-Shabaab - which is linked to al-Qaeda - attempted to storm the Naasa-Hablood hotel.
It is feared the terrorists may have taken a number of hostages. The hotel is a popular location among the Somali political elite and members of the nation's diaspora returning to the city on business, Daily Mail.com reports.
Officials said at least five civilians have been killed.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, although authorities expect the terrorists are members of al-Shabaab.
Major Nur Farah said: 'They started with a suicide bomb and then stormed in. Now they are inside and the heavy exchange of gunfire continues.'
'What we know is that there were at least five victims, including three security guards, and that six others were injured,' police official Ibrahim Mohamed added.
Al-Shabaab are trying to topple the Western-backed government and during Ramadan they often target public areas where people gather before they break their daily fast.
Police captain Mohamed Hussein said he saw four bodies he believe were civilians lying near the front gate.
The terrorists, he said, 'took positions behind blast walls and sandbags; fighting is still ongoing.'
A witness to the attack, Ali Mohamud, said the attackers randomly shot at guests at the hotel.
He said: 'They were shooting at everyone they could see. I escaped through the back door.'
Yusuf Ali, an ambulance driver, told The Associated Press that he evacuated 11 people injured in the attack to hospitals.
He said: 'Most of them were wounded in crossfire.'
In early June, an overnight siege by extremist gunmen at another hotel in the capital killed least 15 people, including two members of parliament. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for that attack.