Several armed soldiers stormed the heavily fortified Asasey Hotel in Kismayo, about 500 km south of the capital Mogadishu, after detonating a car bomb at the entrance, police captain Mahad Abdia told CNN.
Among the victims were Hodon Nalayeh, a prominent Somali-Canadian journalist and YouTube star. The 43-year-old was critically injured in the attack and died in the hospital by her injuries, Abdia said. Her husband was also killed in the attack.
Even among the dead is a regional president, tribal and journalist, told Abdia CNN. Local officials had met inside the hotel before a regional election in August. Dozens were saved, he said.
Terror Group Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement published on an affiliate site and said it was directed against Jubbaland Prime Ministers, regional and federal lawmakers and hotel candidates.
Hassan Ali Khayre, Prime Minister of Somalia condemned "the brutal attack" in a statement Friday and sent compassion to the victims' relatives.
In her last tweet on Thursday, Nalayeh thought of her country's beauty by sharing pictures from the island of Ilisi.
"We mourn the two deadly deaths of our two colleagues, Mohamed Sahal and Hodan Nalayeh, both of whom were murdered in a cowardly and senseless terrorist attack," said Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists.
"The death of Hodan and Mohamed speak of the continued dangers that journalists encounter in Somalia," added Osma. "They were deeply involved in independent journalism and the principles of a free media."