Map of Somalia
Map of Somalia

Al-Shabab gunmen attacked two hotels in Somalia's capital Friday evening, killing as many as 14 people.

Witnesses say car bombs exploded at the gates of the Weheliye and Siyad hotels in Mogadishu and that gunmen stormed the buildings.  Officials say 16 others were injured in the attacks.

Somalia's minister of fisheries and marine resources, Mohamed Omar Emooy, was among dozens of Somali officials who were inside the Weheliye hotel at the time of the attack.

Emooy told VOA he had just started to break his Ramadan fast when a large explosion went off at the hotel gate. He said security forces intervened shortly after and ended the siege.

Witnesses at the Siyad hotel say fighting continued there for nearly five hours after the initial attack. That hotel is close to the presidential palace and the fortified government district.

Somalia's minister of internal security, Abdirizak Omar Mohamed, said a total of 12 gunmen were killed in the shootouts at both hotels.

Officials say Somali government forces are now in control of both hotels.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attacks. The group has been trying for years to overthrow the Somali government and establish a strict Islamic state.

Somali soldiers and troops from the African Union's peacekeeping force have had success in pushing al-Shabab from Somalia's major cities, but the group still controls other areas and continues to launch attacks.

VOA's Somali Service contributed to this report.