A police official says an Islamic extremist attacke on a hotel in the Somali capital has killed at least two people. Somalia's rebel group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility.

Capt. Mohamed Hussein says the attack Wednesday evening on the Ambassador Hotel is continuing. The Mogadishu hotel is frequented by government officials and business executives.

The attack began when an explosives-laden vehicle was detonated by a suicide bomber at the gates of the hotel. Fighters on foot then tried to force their way into the hotel.

The attack comes on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, during which extremists have in the past stepped up attacks in this volatile country in East Africa.