Jihadists Attack Near Hotel in Somali Capital: Official
World. (File Image)

Mogadishu, Dec 10 (AFP) A fierce gun battle broke out Tuesday in the Somali capital Mogadishu near a major city centre hotel, security sources and witnesses said, as a jihadist group announced an "operation" there.

"There is heavy exchange of gunfire and grenade explosions," said security official Abdirahman Adan.

"I cannot confirm but the hotel seems to be under terrorist attack", he added, referring to the SYL hotel.

Several witnesses told AFP they had heard automatic weapons fire in that part of the city.

The SYL hotel has been targeted by the al-Shabaab Islamist group several times in the past.

On Tuesday, the group posted on a website sympathetic to their cause that it had carried out an operation "which happened as planned", without specifying details. "I was close to the hotel when the gunfire broke out and we managed to turn our vehicle swiftly," one witness, Abdukadir Ahmed, told AFP.

"The security forces around the palace checkpoints were firing heavy machine guns but we don't exactly know who was fighting who," he added.

The presidential palace is very close to the SYL Hotel. Both are in a part of the capital that is under tight security. The prime minister's offices are in the same district. Several other witnesses said the attack targeted the hotel. They said several attackers had tried to get inside, but it was unclear if they had succeeded.

A car bomb attack on the hotel in August 2016 killed 15 people and caused extensive damage.

Fourteen people were killed in an earlier attack on the hotel, in February of that same year. And a first attack in January 2015 left five people dead. (AFP)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from Syndicated News feed, LatestLY Staff may not have modified or edited the content body)