At least 10 people were killed Friday in an attack by militants at a hotel in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, a police official said. Al Shabab, an extremist group, claimed responsibility for the attack, and Somali special forces were still attempting to retake the hotel as of Friday evening local time after police previously tried to go in. The BBC reported that the Somali ambassador to Switzerland, Yusuf Bari Bari, was one of those killed in the attack.
The attack began after a suicide bomber blew up a car at the gate of the Maka al Mukarramah hotel, which is popular with foreigners. At least four armed militants entered the building and killed anyone they came across, the Associated Press reported, and some people in the hotel jumped out of windows to escape. At least one member of Somali security forces was wounded during the battle for the hotel.
It is unclear how many people were inside at the time of the attack, Somali police Capt. Mohamed Hussein told the AP. Nor was it immediately clear whom the militants were aiming to kill. At least 12 people have been wounded, and the number of deaths was expected to grow.
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The attack came the same day that the United Kingdom issued a heightened travel warning for Britons traveling to neighboring Kenya, adding new coastal tourist areas to a list of places to avoid. A previous travel warning from the government cited threats from al Shabab as one of the reasons for the caution. Australia issued its own warning Friday of a possible terrorist attack in Nairobi.
The hotel attack also came one day after Somali security forces raided an al Shabab cell in northern Mogadishu, arresting a commander and three suspected militants in addition to confiscating weapons and ammunition from the site. Al Shabab has carried out multiple deadly attacks and bombings throughout East Africa, including Uganda, Kenya and Somalia, since its rise in Somalia in 2006. In 2013, it carried out an attack on a mall in Kenya that killed 67 people. The same year it also attacked a United Nations compound in Mogadishu in which 22 people died. It has also claimed responsibility for numerous other attacks since then.