Militant group Al Shabaab carried out a series of attacks in Somalia as the country braced itself for an uptick in violence ahead of Wednesday night’s presidential elections.
Four security guards were killed in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region following an attack by extremists on a hotel on Wednesday morning.
The governor of Bari region, Yusuf Mohamed, told Reuters news agency that two of the attackers had also been killed during the exchange of fire that took place in the port city of Bosasso.
“Three Al Shabaab fighters stormed the International Village Hotel this morning. Four guards and two of the attackers died in the fighting,” he said.
“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.”
The hotel is frequented by many foreigners.
On Tuesday evening, Al Shabaab also fired two mortar rounds close to the venue where Wednesday’s presidential elections were due to be held.
Residents in Arbacow village outside Mogadishu also reported jihadists attacking an African Union military base there.
Al Shabaab carries out regular attacks in the south of Somalia, where it is battling Somali security forces and African Union (AU) troops who support the Somali military.
The attacks have included bomb and gun attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and other areas in an effort to overthrow the Western-backed government.
However, attacks in the north of the country are not that common.
Prior to 2011, the Al Qaeda-affiliated militants controlled most of Somalia, including Mogadishu.
But during the last several years, the extremists have been driven out of large swathes of the country.