At least 15 people have been killed and dozens more wounded in an attack on a hotel in the centre of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, witnesses tell Al Jazeera.

A car bomb exploded at the main gate of the Sahafi Hotel early on Sunday morning, with attackers then storming the hotel as they exchanged gunfire with security guards.

A suicide bomber detonated a second set of explosives inside the hotel.

 Analyst Afyare Elmi discusses the attack

Somali troops and African Union forces were deployed to the scene and took control of the situation,. Lieutenant Colonel Paul Njuguna, the spokesperson for the AU Mission in Somalia, told Al Jazeera. 

The al-Shabab armed group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. 

Those killed in the attack included parliamentarian Mohamed Abdi Abtidoon and a freelance photographer, Mustaf Abdi, who on several occasions contributed to Al Jazeera reports.

Several prominent people were among the injured ,including a journalist and a local businessman.

Medical sources confirmed that a top Somali military commander, General Gacma Duule, and Somalia's ambassador to Ethiopia, Abdisalam Haji Adam, were also injured.  

The hotel is often frequented by Somali government officials and business executives and it has been targeted before. Two French security advisers were abducted from the hotel in 2009. 

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies