Eyewitnesses said two car bombs went off outside the Splendid hotel at around 19:30 local time (same as GMT).
Three to four masked men then stormed the Splendid Hotel, which is used by UN staff and westerners, witnesses said.
A member of staff at the nearby Cappuccino cafe told Agence France Presse that “several people” had been killed there.
Local media report that at least one person has been taken hostage inside the building.
One jihadi monitoring group said al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed it was behind the attack.
This is the third major international terror attack in the last four days.
The Twitter account of Agence France-Presse says at least 20 people are dead:
— AFP news agency (@AFP) January 16, 2016
We are just three days removed from President Obama reassuring the American people that there were no existential threats out there to be worried about. All that’s happened since then are three terror attacks, American sailors being “detained” by Iran, and the stock market taking a historic swan dive.
As I have cautioned many times in the past, never ask if things can get worse these days because the answer is always “Yes.”