A auto bomb went off, followed by gunfire on Friday at a hotel in Somalia's port city of Kismayo, where local elders and lawmakers were meeting to discuss an upcoming regional election, police said.
He said gunfire is continuing inside the hotel.
Major Mohamed Abdi, another police officer, told Reuters earlier that local elders and lawmakers were meeting at the Hotel Asasey when the attack happened.
Among the victims was Hodan Nalayeh, a prominent Somali-Canadian journalist and YouTube star.
The Al-Shabaab Islamist militant group has claimed responsibility for the blast, adding that this was a suicide attack.
"First we targeted [the hotel] with a suicide auto bomb and then armed mujahedeen stormed the hotel. We are restful combating all throughout the hotel", he mentioned.
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"Mujahidin fighters carried out a martyrdom attack on one of the hotels accommodating the apostate officials of the Jubaland administration", an autonomous southern zone in the troubled country whose main city is Kismayo, the group said. "We management the hotel now". It said its fighters had battled their way into the hotel after a suicide auto bomb attack.
Nur became as soon as relating to elections within the metropolis due one day in August.
"Hodan made immeasurable contributions to the Canadian Somali community", said Immigration Minister to Ahmed Hussen in a statement to the Star.
It said Nalayeh had recently returned from Canada.
In 2011, they fled positions they once held in Mogadishu, and have since lost many strongholds. The metropolis's port had been a vital source of earnings for the crew from taxes, charcoal exports and levies on hands and other unlawful imports.
Outside of Kismayo, al-Shabaab still controls parts of Jubbaland, a region in southern Somalia.
The militants have been carrying out more frequent attacks in the capital Mogadishu, despite the heavy presence of African Union peacekeepers and US-trained Somali troops.