This frame taken from video shows a scene of an explosion in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, Tuesday Jan. 15, 2019. Gunfire and explosions were reported near an upscale hotel complex. (AP Photo/Josphat Kasire)

Nairobi – The Al-Shabaab Islamist group in Somalia on Tuesday claimed responsibility for an ongoing attack in the Kenyan capital, according to the SITE Intelligence Group which monitors jihadist activities.

The Al-Qaeda-linked group said it was behind the attack, which has seen a blast and gunfire at the DusitD2 hotel and office compound in the Nairobi suburb of Westlands, according to a brief announcement via its news agency.

Kenyan security officials meanwhile, have evacuated a number of people from the hotel.

The injured have been rushed to hospital as special forces cordon off the area, according to numerous media reports

The incident began in the afternoon in the Westland district of the capital which also houses a bank and a number of offices. Local television showed smoke rising from a compound in the district of the city, which houses the Dusit hotel, as well as offices.

While Nairobi police commander Philip Ndolo reported it could possible be a robbery, police spokesman Charles Owino told AFP that a terrorist attack couldn’t be ruled out.

“All police teams, including anti-terror officers have been dispatched to the scene where the incident is. As of now, we are treating it as anything, including the highest attack,” said Owino.

Kenya has been battling Al-Shabaab militants for a number of years following its military intervention in Somalia in October 2011 to fight the organisation.

The group has since carried out numerous attacks in Kenya targeting both civilians and the military.

On April 2, 2015, an Al-Shabaab attack killed 148 people at the university in Garissa, in eastern Kenya. On 21 September 2013, armed gunmen attacked the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, killing at least 69 people and injuring more than 175.

African News Agency (ANA) and AFP