Mogadishu: According to police and witnesses, terrorists attacked a hotel used by government officials in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Sunday evening.
Al-Shabaab, an organization linked to Al Qaeda that controls a large part of the country, claimed responsibility for the attack and said in a statement that it was directed at the nearby presidential palace.
Ahmad Abdullahi, who lives nearby, said, "We were shaken by a huge explosion, which was followed by heavy gunfire." We are only inside and hearing the gunshots.
According to two police officers who spoke to Reuters, the attackers stormed the Villa Rose hotel, which is close to the presidential palace. Officials claimed it was unclear how many attackers were at the time.
According to one of the police officers, Mohamed Abdi, some government officials at Villa Rose were saved after using the windows as escape routes.
Adam Av Hirsi, Minister of State for the Environment, tweeted that he had survived a terrorist explosion that was "targeted at my residence" at the hotel where several government officials lived.
President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud has been waging a military campaign against al-Shabaab since being elected earlier this year.