MOGADISHU: Islamist militants hurled grenades at the gate of a hotel in central Somalia Thursday then opened fire as they burst into the building used by Somali soldiers and Djiboutian African Union peacekeepers, residents said.
Militant group Al-Shabaab said it was behind the attack in the town of Bulobarde, their second assault on the hotel in four months.
Shopkeeper Farah Nur told Reuters Al-Shabaab fighters started shooting once they burst inside. Other residents said they heard explosions and gunfire.
"We don't know of any casualties. The place is now surrounded by many AMISOM (the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia) and Somali forces," he said.
The militants, who seek to impose their own harsh version of Islamic law, control large areas of countryside and smaller towns. They have launched attacks at home and in the region, including Uganda and Kenya.
"Our well-armed Mujahideen ... entered Hotel Amalow in Bulobarde again. They are carrying out the operations, shootings," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's spokesman for military operation told Reuters.
"The hotel houses senior Djibouti and Somali military officials," he added.