At least 26 people are now known to have died on Friday after Al-shabaab militants launched a bomb and gun attack on a hotel in Somalia’s port city of Kismayo.
Hotel Asasey which was attacked is in the heart of the Kismayo town.
Those killed include Kenyans, Americans, a Briton and Tanzanians, Jubbaland region’s president said on Saturday.
Dozens others also sustained injuries in Friday’s attack, according to security forces.
AFP quotes security official Abdiweli Mohamed as saying “Several people died and many more are injured but we don’t have the exact number of the fatalities so far because there is still a rescue operation going on.”
According to security officials a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into the hotel.
Shortly after a number of heavily armed gunmen stormed the hotel shooting indiscriminately.
“The blast rocked the popular Medina hotel formerly known as Cascasey which is located in downtown Kismayo,” said Mohamed.
He adds that “Several gunmen entered and started shooting but the security forces responded quickly and engaged in a gunfight with the terrorists inside the building.”
A prominent journalist Hodan Nalayeh is among those reportedly killed.
A bomb attack claimed on a hotel in Somalia’s port city of Kismayo left multiple people dead, including prominent journalist Hodan Nalayeh.https://t.co/GYAK9UJZEL
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) July 12, 2019
A witness told AFP that “The blast was very big. There is chaos inside, I saw several dead bodies carried from the scene and people are fleeing from the nearby buildings.”
Al-Shabaab did claim responsibility for the attack in a statement.
The group said “Mujahidin fighters carried out a martyrdom attack on one of the hotels accommodating the apostate officials of the Jubaland administration”.
Local leaders and politicians were meeting at the hotel at the time of the attack.