At least 10 people have been killed in Mogadishu after a suspected al-Shabaab militant crashed his vehicle into a gate outside a hotel frequented by diplomats and gunmen stormed the building.

The al-Qaida-affiliated militant group quickly claimed responsibility for the attack on the Hotel Ambassador in the Somali capital.

A Mogadishu police officer, Col Ali Mohamed, said: “We believe there are some fighters in the hotel but we are not sure.”

Another officer, Maj Ibrahim Hassan, added: “So far we have confirmed three people died and a dozen others injured.”

Police confirmed 10 people were killed in the attack and warned the toll was likely to rise.

Maka al-Mukaram, where the hotel is located, is a major street lined with hotels, restaurants and banks in the heart of the capital that links another major artery, K4, to the presidential palace.

In February, at least nine people were killed when al-Shabaab fighters set off a car bomb at the gate of a popular park near a hotel in the capital. In January, an attack on a beachfront restaurant killed at least 17 people.

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