Huge blast in hotel in Somalia's Kismayu, followed by gunfire

Suicide attack on hotel kills at least seven in Somalia

Militants stormed a hotel Friday evening in the coastal Somali city of Kismayo, sparking gunbattles and fears of heavy casualties.

A suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into the popular hotel in the southern town before several heavily armed gunmen forced their way inside, shooting as they went, he said.

In a statement, the Somali Journalists Syndicate said there were two reporters among the dead, according to Reuters news agency. The 43-year-old was critically wounded in the attack and died at the hospital of her injuries, Abdia said.

Naleyah was killed alongside her husband Farid Jama.

A candidate for regional presidency, tribal elders, and journalists were also among the dead, Abdia told CNN.

Sources said that some lawmakers were at the hotel to discuss upcoming local elections at the time of the attack.

The Al-Shabaab Islamist militant group has claimed responsibility for the blast, adding that this was a suicide attack. CNN has not been able to independently confirm these claims.

Security forces said that their priority is to rescue hostages held in the hotel.

"A blast occurred in Hotel Asasey in the heart of Kismayo, followed by gunfire".

"There are many unnecessary our bodies all throughout the hotel, including a unnecessary white man. We control the hotel now".

Nur was referring to elections in the city due sometime in August.

"Hodan made immeasurable contributions to the Canadian Somali community", said Immigration Minister to Ahmed Hussen in a statement to the Star. She spent most of her life in Canada and developed her career as a journalist.

Al-Shabaab became as soon as ejected from Mogadishu in 2011 and has since been driven from most of its other strongholds.

It was driven out of Kismayu in 2012.

It remains a major security threat, with fighters frequently carrying out bombings in Somalia and neighboring Kenya, whose troops form part of the African Union-mandated peacekeeping force that helps defend the Somali government.

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