Al-Shabab fighters stormed a hotel in the capital of the semi-autonomous Puntland region killing four guards, while two of the attackers also died, a senior Somali official said.
The attack occurred in the port city of Bosasso early on Wednesday, Yusuf Mohamed, the governor of Bari region, told Reuters news agency.
“Three al-Shabab fighters stormed the International Village Hotel this morning. Four guards and two of the attackers died in the fighting,” he said.
The hotel is popular with foreigners.
“Fortunately the attackers did not enter the rooms. The fighting took place inside the compound. A third fighter escaped and we are pursuing him. All the people in the hotel are safe.”
Attacks are not common in the northern parts of Somalia, unlike in the south where al-Shabab is waging a deadly war against the Somali government and the African Union forces bolstering it.
Until 2011, the al-Qaeda-linked group controlled most of Somalia including the capital, Mogadishu.
In the past two years, African Union and Somali government forces have forced al-Shabab out of important urban strongholds, but it remains active from bases in rural areas.
Fighters often stage bomb and gun attacks in the capital and other regions in their quest to overthrow the Western-backed government and impose their own strict interpretation of Islamic law on the nation.
Somalia’s lawmakers are due to elect a president later on Wednesday in Mogadishu.
Fears of attacks have limited the election to the country’s legislators, who will vote at a heavily guarded former air force base in the capital. Rounds of voting are expected to narrow down the 22 candidates to a winner.
The Horn of Africa nation is trying to put together its first fully functioning central government in a quarter-century. Years of warlord-led conflict and al-Shabab attacks, along with famine, have left the country of about 12 million people largely shattered.[Source: Al-Jazeera]