At least 19 people were killed in a car bomb and gun attack by Al-Shabab militants in a busy hotel and adjacent restaurant in the Somalian capital of Mogadishu, a police officer said on Thursday.

On Wednesday evening, a suicide bomber had rammed a car into the Posh Treats Hotel in south Mogadishu. Gunmen later rushed into Pizza House, an adjacent restaurant, and took 20 people hostage, reported Reuters.

Abid Bashir, the district police chief, said Somali security forces had managed to take back control of the restaurant around midnight and killed five gunmen. “We are in control of the hotel but it was mostly destroyed by the suicide bomber,” he said.

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack. “A mujahid [fighter] with his suicide car bomb martyred himself after he rammed into the Posh Hotel, which is a nightclub. The operation goes on,” Al-Shabaab spokesperson Abdiasis Abu Musab said. The group claimed on Thursday morning it had killed more than 20 people, including soldiers and government workers.

Witnesses said there were bodies lying at the scene. Ambulance service said another 27 civilians had been taken to hospital, where they were being treated for injuries. The attack took place after the Iftar dinner for customers who were fasting for Ramadan, witnesses said.

Al-Shabab has carried out several suicide bombings in the country targeting the government.