At least five people have reportedly been killed after a gun and bomb attack on a hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Head of the Aamin ambulance service, Abdikadir Abdirahman, said 28 injured people had been taken from the scene before the gunfire started.
Paramedics and civilians carry an injured person on a stretcher at Madina hospital after a blast at the Elite Hotel in Lido beach in Mogadishu, Somalia August 16, 2020.
The hotel is frequently used by government officials and the privately-owned Somali news website Dhacdoone described it as one of the most heavily guarded facilities in Mogadishu.
Forces continue to fight the other gunmen in the hotel and are trying to gain access to the upper floors, Mukhtar said.
Officials and witnesses told VOA Somali that a auto bomb exploded outside Elite hotel at Mogadishu's Lido Beach.
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State news agency SONNA reported that Islamist group al Shabaab had attacked with a auto bomb at the hotel entrance and armed militants.
In addition to the five victims, three assailants were killed - one in the vehicle bomb explosion and the other two in a shootout with security forces, according to a security source who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief the media.
The dead included government official Abdirasak Abdi, who worked at the information ministry, his colleague Hussein Ali said. It said gunfire was coming from inside the hotel and that government security forces had been deployed. "There is chaos and people are fleeing from nearby buildings", said witness Ali Sayid Adan.
"The exchange of gunfire is bad and stray bullets reached us near the beach", Mohamed Nur, a government worker, told Reuters.
Somalia has been embroiled in deadly violence since 1991, when clan warlords overthrew leader Siad Barre and then turned on each other.
Last week a shootout between jailed al-Shabab members and security officers at a prison claimed at least 20 lives.