The attack started with what is assumed to have been a suicide auto bomb detonated outside the Nasa-Hablod 2 Hotel near the presidential palace in Mogadishu.
"We can confirm that the president was not at the hotel at the time of the attack", he said.
The attack came two weeks after a massive truck bomb exploded in central Mogadishu, killing at least 358 people, making it the deadliest attack in the troubled country's history.
Ali Nur, a police officer, told Reuters 17 people, mostly policemen, had died in the blasts.
Residents said there was a huge smoke billowing from the scene after a huge explosion followed with gunfire was heard outside the hotel.
A taxi driver at the scene told AFP he saw four bodies being carried away, while another witness called Yusuf Moalim said a senior police official appeared to be among the victims, whose vehicle had been near the hotel entrance when the blast occurred.
The Al Qaeda-affiliated militant group is fighting to topple Somalia's internationally-backed government and has carried out scores of such attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere in the country.
La Nina to influence winter weather, officials predict
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center will release an updated seasonal forecast throughout the winter. The big driver in the forecast is a La Nina weather event that is likely to develop next month.
Two more blasts were heard in the area, with one reported as a suicide bombing.
The attack on the Nasa-Hablod hotel, near the presidential palace, appeared to have devolved into an ongoing battle between militants and government security forces Saturday night.
Security officials said Saturday's bomber had pretended his truck had broken down outside the gate.
A suicide auto bomber first drove into a hotel where President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo was due to host a meeting on Saturday, following by a vehicle bombing near a former parliament building.
Al-Shabab often targets high-profile areas of Mogadishu.
The US has been actively involving in trying to combat the group, launching 20 drone strikes.
- Kid Rock not running for US Senate
- Kiwis opt to bat after India ODI pitch controversy
- Grambling State University to hold class after two shot and killed overnight
- Facepalm! Hardik Patel declares support for Congress but his aides join BJP
- India plays New Zealand despite curator's violation of ICC regulations
- Twitter didn't tell Senate Intel about RT pitch to buy election ads
- Nintendo Switch Helps Nintendo Lead The Video Game Industry In Hardware Sale
- This is what Anushka Shetty gifted Prabhas on his birthday
- 3 white supremacists charged with attempted murder after Richard Spencer speech
- Latest Harvey Weinstein Accuser Claims He Forced Oral Sex During Her Period