At least 16 people have been killed and 55 wounded in a car-bomb and gun attack on the Ambassador Hotel in Somalia capital Mogadishu on Wednesday (1 June). Islamist militant group al-Shabaab, which is linked with al-Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Somalia's elite forces used rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns mounted on cars to fight the assailants, who took up positions on the hotel's second floor.

Reports have stated that sporadic gunfire could still be heard after the initial suicide car-bombing attack on the hotel gate. Police have also stated that a number of hostages have been taken.

Somalia unrest
A woman walks in front of Hotel Ambassador on Maka Al Mukaram Road in MogadishuFeisal Omar/ Reuters
Somalia unrest
People carry the body of a victim from the scene of a terror attack outside The Ambassador Hotel in MogadishuMohamed Abdiwahab/ AFP
Somalia unrest
Somali forces take positions at Hotel Ambassador on Maka Al Mukaram Road in MogadishuFeisal Omar/ Reuters
Somalia unrest
A woman stands next to a military on the scene of a terror attack on the Ambassador Hotel in MogadishuMohamed Abdiwahab/ AFP
Somalia unrest
A man who was injured during an attack on Hotel Ambassador waits in front of a hospital in MogadishuFeisal Omar/ Reuters
Somalia unrest
Women walk next to a military on the scene of a terror attack on the Ambassador Hotel in Mogadishu a day after the car bomb and gunfireMohamed Abdiwahab/ AFP

The militant group, which was pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011, remains a dangerous threat to Somalia and neighbouring countries such as Kenya and Uganda.

"So far we have confirmed 16 people, mostly civilians, died and 55 others were injured," police officer Major Nur Mohamed told Reuters on Thursday. "We suspect the rooftop is not safe. Security forces are inside from the first to fourth floor."

Somalia unrest
General view of the scene after a suicide car-bombing outside the Hotel Ambassador on Maka Al Mukaram Road in MogadishuFeisal Omar/Reuters
Somalia unrest
A car burns at the scene of a suicide car-bombing outside Hotel Ambassador on Maka Al Mukaram Road in MogadishuMohamed Abdiwahab/AFP
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A victim is carried away from the scene of a terror attack at the Ambassador Hotel after a car bomb exploded in MogadishuMohamed Abdiwahab/AFP

The Ambassador Hotel is frequently used by MPs, and it has been reported that two lawmakers have been killed and the hotel has been severely damaged. Relatives have gathered at hospitals and at the hotel searching for loved ones, with some people believed to be trapped inside, while government forces have cordoned off all main roads near the hotel.

Somalia unrest
A vehicle burns at the scene of a suicide car-bombing outside the Hotel Ambassador in MogadishuFeisal Omar/Reuters
Somalia unrest
People carry a victim of a terror attack at the Ambassador Hotel in MogadishuMohamed Abdiwahab/AFP
Somalia unrest
A man runs from the scene after a car bomb exploded at the Ambassador Hotel in MogadishuMohamed Abdiwahab/AFP

The attack underlines the challenges that the Somali government and African Union forces are facing and are struggling to secure the seaside capital, which has seen a series of attacks by al-Shabaab.

This attack comes only a few months after another attack on a Mogadishu hotel and public garden in February, in which at least nine civilians were killed. Further to this, a car bomb exploded outside a restaurant in the capital in April, killing at least five people.

Somalia unrest
People carry a victim of a terror attack at the Ambassador Hotel in MogadishuMohamed Abdiwahab/AFP
Somalia unrest
A destroyed car is seen parked on a deserted street near the scene of a suicide car-bombing outside Hotel Ambassador on Maka Al Mukaram Road in MogadishuFeisal Omar/Reuters
Somalia unrest
People prepare to evacuate a man who was injured in a suicide car-bombing outside Hotel Ambassador on Maka Al Mukaram Road in MogadishuFeisal Omar/Reuters
Somalia unrest
A man looks at the scene of a suicide car-bombing outside Hotel Ambassador on Maka Al Mukaram Road in MogadishuFeisal Omar/Reuters
Somalia unrest
Vehicles burn at the scene of a suicide car bombing outside the Hotel Ambassador on Maka Al Mukaram Road in MogadishuFeisal Omar/Reuters
Somalia unrest
Men assist a victim of the car bomb away from the scene in MogadishuMohamed Abdiwahab/AFP
Somalia unrest
A man walks past the scene of a terror attack at the Ambassador Hotel after a car-bomb attack in MogadishuMohamed Abdiwahab/AFP
Somalia unrest
People evacuate a man on a stretcher who was injured by a suicide car bombing outside the Hotel Ambassador on Maka Al Mukaram Road MogadishuFeisal Omar/Reuters
Somalia unrest
General view shows the scene of a suicide car bombing outside the Hotel Ambassador on Maka Al Mukaram Road in MogadishuFeisal Omar/Reuters
Somalia unrest
People evacuate a man who was injured by a suicide car-bombing outside the Hotel Ambassador on Maka Al Mukaram Road MogadishuFeisal Omar/Reuters
Somalia unrest
People evacuate a man who was injured by a suicide car-bombing outside the Hotel Ambassador on Maka Al Mukaram Road MogadishuFeisal Omar/Reuters
Somalia unrest
General view shows the scene of a suicide car-bombing outside the Hotel Ambassador on Maka Al Mukaram Road, MogadishuFeisal Omar/Reuters
Somalia unrest
A vehicle burns at the scene of a suicide car-bombing outside the Hotel Ambassador on Maka Al Mukaram Road in MogadishuFeisal Omar/Reuters