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Luxury hotel close to presidential palace STORMED by militants in Somalia, gunfight ensues (VIDEO)

Luxury hotel close to presidential palace STORMED by militants in Somalia, gunfight ensues (VIDEO)
A group of armed militants are laying siege to the SYL Hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, according to eyewitness reports of gunfire and explosions at the scene. The luxury hotel is frequented by government officials and politicians.

Somalia-based Islamist group Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to local reports. Witnesses say heavy gunfire can still be heard within the premises, though it’s not clear how many people are inside. Some also said the attackers – four to five militants – had donned Somali security personnel uniforms.

"We thought they were police but they started hurling grenades and firing us when they neared and so we exchanged fire at the gate of the hotel," a police officer told Reuters.

One MP who escaped from the scene told others there were casualties, but this has not yet been confirmed.

Two of the attackers were gunned down at the entrance of the hotel, while the rest of the group managed to get into the compound, deputy police commissioner General Zakia Hussen has said. At least 82 civilians, including several government officials, were rescued from the hotel, she added.

Two of the attackers were gunned down at the entrance of the hotel, while the rest of the group managed to get into the compound, deputy police commissioner General Zakia Hussen has said. At least 82 civilians, including several government officials, were rescued from the hotel, she added.

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Al-Shabab targeted the hotel in a devastating car bomb attack in February 2016, killing 14 people including five militants and causing enormous damage to nearby buildings.

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