Gunmen who stormed a hotel in Somalia's capital have taken an unknown number of hotel guests hostage, police said Saturday, as the attackers set up snipers on the rooftop and threw grenades. Islamic extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the latest in a series of hotel assaults in Mogadishu. At least 15 people have been killed, according to CNN. Capt. Mohamed Hussein said some attackers had moved to the second floor and were using machine guns to resist security forces. Police said the attack on the Nasa-Hablod hotel in Mogadishu began when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at its gate. The AP reports gunmen fought their way inside, and a witness said they began shooting randomly at hotel guests. Hussein said security forces have killed two of the attackers. He also said he saw four bodies, thought to be civilians, lying outside the hotel.
It was not known how many attackers entered the hotel, nor how many guests were inside. The attackers "took positions behind blast walls and sandbags; fighting is still ongoing," Hussein said, as gunfire could be heard in the background. A witness, Ali Mohamud, said the attackers randomly shot at guests. "They were shooting at everyone they could see. I escaped through the back door," he said. Yusuf Ali said he evacuated 11 people injured in the attack to hospitals. "Most of them were wounded in crossfire," he said. The Somalia-based, al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab extremist group has been waging a deadly insurgency across large parts of Somalia and often employs suicide car bomb attacks to penetrate heavily fortified targets in Mogadishu and elsewhere. (Read more Somalia stories.)