Somali special forces have managed to end a four-hour-long siege at the Elite Hotel in the capital, Mogadishu, after militants attacked the hotel.
Police say the luxurious beachside hotel was attacked by gunmen, leading to several casualties.
The militants are said to have detonated a car bomb outside the hotel before storming in to seize hostages. At least 12 people were killed during the siege, the BBC reports.
In a tweet, a spokesman for the government, Ismael Mukhtaar Omar, said: “Somali special forces have ended a four-hour-long deadly siege at Elite hotel in #Mogadushu after killing the last attacker.”
Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.
“The mujahideen have launched an operation consisting of martyrdom [suicide bombing] and a commando raid against a hotel belonging to an MP from the apostate group [Somali government],” the Islamist organisation said in a statement.
Senior government officials killed
The Elite Hotel is owned by the Somali legislator and former finance minister Abdullahi Mohamed Nor. It is very popular and is frequented by government officials and members of the Somali diaspora.
Reports suggest a senior official from the Information Ministry and another official from the Ministry of Defence are among the dead.
Three hotel guards are also said to have been killed by the Shabaab fighters, and many more sustained various degrees of injury.
However, a government spokesman confirmed that the Somali forces managed to rescue more than 200 people from the hotel.
Over the past decade, al-Shabaab, which has ties to al-Qaeda, has been waging an insurgency in Somalia. Despite being pushed out of the capital by government troops and African Union forces, the militants still carry out sporadic attacks.
This is the second attack in Mogadishu by jihadist groups in the space of a week. It follows a shootout between jailed Shabaab members and security officers at a prison that claimed 20 lives.