At least 10 people have been killed in a car bombing at the gate of a hotel in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
Ambulance sirens and gunfire were heard on Sunday near the Jazeera Palace Hotel, frequented by government officials and dignitaries and home to several embassies, soon after the blast.
The armed group al-Shabab, which frequently launches bomb and gun attacks against officials and others in Mogadishu in its bid to topple Somalia's government, quickly claimed responsibility.
"A suicide car bomb exploded at the gate of Jazeera Hotel," Major Nur Osoble, a police officer, told Reuters news agency.
| The Jazeera Palace Hotel houses the UN, Western diplomatic missions and AMISOM [Mustaf Abdi/Al Jazeera]
The AU force in Somalia (AMISOM) said it was helping to evacuate the wounded.
The hotel has been the target of al-Shabab attackers in the past, including in 2012 when suicide bombers stormed the hotel while President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was inside.
On Saturday al-Shabab fighters killed Abdulahi Hussein Mohamud, a parliament member, spraying his vehicle with gunfire as he travelled through a southern district of Mogadishu, killing him, his two guards and the driver.
Al-Shabab said in a statement that its "Mujahideen fighters targeted and killed a member of the parliament and his guards", adding that it "will continue targeting" legislators.
The attack on Sunday comes a day after US President Barack Obama said during his visit to Nairobi, in neighbouring Kenya, that while al-Shabab had been "weakened", the overall security threat posed by it remained.
"We have been able to decrease their effective control within Somalia and have weakened those networks operating here in East Africa," he said.
"That doesn't mean the problem is solved."
|The Jazeera Hotel was targeted in 2012 when bombers stormed it while the Somali president was inside [Mustaf Abdi/Al Jazeera]
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies