At least eight people including a government official and civilians were killed and more than 17 wounded on Sunday when a car bomb blast targeted a popular hotel in Somali's capital Mogadishu, officials said. The bombing was followed by gunmen on foot storming the Elite Hotel at the Lido beachfront, with the battle inside apparently still ongoing, with the potential for more casualties. Ismail Mukhtar Oronjo, a government spokesman, told Anadolu Agency (AA) at least eight people have been killed including Abdirizaq Abdi Abdullahi, a top official at the Information Ministry. "More than 17, including Gulmudug State Public Works Minister Ahmed Dhiblawe Asir, were wounded in the attack," Oronjo said. Ilyas Ali Hassan, a Somali senator, told AA that several senior officials were evacuated.
"Those rescued including the owner, who is former state minister of finance and current MP," Hassan said. A free ambulance service transported 28 injured people from the explosion, Abdulkadir Adan, who heads the service, wrote on Twitter after the attack. Police officials who spoke to AA over the phone say security forces are still battling gunmen inside the hotel. "The operation is going on and the casualties could rise," Guled Salad, a police official, told AA. Local media reported that the death toll has reached more than 15 people, mostly civilians, and more than 30 wounded. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack but Somali-based al-Qaida-affiliated group al-Shabab has claimed recent attacks in the country. This attack is the second deadly attack in two weeks in Mogadishu. Last Tuesday, at least 19 people were killed and several others wounded in an al-Shabab attack on a central prison in Mogadishu.