Somalia hotel attack: Diplomat, others killed

Updated 3:32 PM EDT, Fri March 27, 2015

Story highlights

NEW: Somali diplomat to the United Nations in Geneva was among those killed, government says

Witness: Attackers detonated car bomb, then shot people inside hotel

Hotel is popular with lawmakers, journalists and business people

(CNN) —  

Gunmen detonated bombs and sprayed people with bullets as they raided a hotel in Somalia’s capital late Friday afternoon, killing a Somali diplomat and at least five other people in an attack claimed by Islamic militant group Al-Shabaab, officials said.

Yusuf Mohamed Ismail Bari-Bari, Somalia’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, was among those killed in the attack, the Somali government said.

The attack started about 5 p.m. local time when a car bomb exploded at the hotel’s entrance, according to witness Aden Hussein, who said he was nearby when the blast happened.

Gunmen then stormed into the hotel and opened fire, Hussein said.

One of the attackers, who was wearing a belt with explosives, blew himself up inside the hotel, police Capt. Ahmed Abdi said.

A few hours after the assault began, state-run media reported that security forces stormed the building and killed the remaining assailants.

The attackers killed at least six people, Abdi said.

The Makka Al Mukarama hotel, located along a highway leading to the country’s presidential palace, is popular with lawmakers, journalists, business people and Somalis returning home from abroad.

Al-Shabaab said it targeted the hotel because its guests are spies and government officials.

The terror group has been active in Somalia for years.

Journalist Omar Nor reported from Mogadishu. CNN’s Jason Hanna wrote from Atlanta.