Islamic extremists from the al Shabaab terror group have reportedly claimed responsibility for attacks at two hotels in the Somalia capital of Mogadishu, that left at least four people dead Friday.
The Wehliya and Siyaad hotels were filled with people breaking their Ramadan fast when gunmen stormed the buildings and gunfire erupted, police said. Police Capt. Mohamed Hussein said that Somalia's security forces intervened shortly after the assault began, engaging in a firefight with the gunmen.
There are conflicting reports on the death toll. A local police officer told the BBC four people had been killed in the siege at the Wehliya Hotel. But Reuters reported six civilians and four militants died.
"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 around the Wehliya Hotel.
Al Shabab militants earlier claimed the attack on the Wehliya Hotel and said they had also laid siege to another hotel in the city.
"Car bombs rammed into the hotels named Wehliya and Siyaad. Then our fighters stormed in. Fighting goes on inside both hotels," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s spokesman for military operations told Reuters Friday.
At the same time of the hotel sieges, there was also a mortar attack on a base of the African Union. The AU is helping the government battle al Shabaab, which is part of al Qaeda.
Al Shabaab has claimed several recent attacks in the city after vowing to step up attacks during the Muslim holy month. The militants have also targeted neighboring African countries, killing almost 150 people in an assault on Garissa University College in Kenya in April. rebels al-Shabab has vowed to step up attacks during the Muslim holy month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.