A Somali police officer says at least 10 people have been killed and more than a dozen others injured in an ongoing siege at a beachside hotel in Somalia's capital where security forces are battling Islamic extremist gunmen who have invaded the building,
Security forces have so far shot dead two of the attackers in the hotel amid fears of hostage crisis inside the complex, said Ismail Mukhtar, spokesman of Somalia's information ministry.
Military vehicles could be seen taking positions around the hotel amid the darkness of night, that officials worry could prolong the siege.
Capt. Mohamed Hussein told The Associated Press that the attack started with a powerful car bomb which blew off the security gates to the Elite Hotel. Then gunmen ran inside and took hostages, mostly young men and women who were dining at the hotel, he said.
Security forces rescued more than 10 people from the siege and were trying to prevent the attackers from moving up to the top floor, he said.
Ambulance sirens could be heard in the area which has had a power outage since the attack started.
Somalia's homegrown Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, who are allied to al-Qaida, have claimed responsibility for the attack via its radio arm, Andalus.
The hotel attack has shattered a period of calm of a few months. Earlier this year Somalia had a spate of bomb attacks.