Kenya suffered casualties in Friday's deadly Al-Shabaab attack in Kismayo, with at least three nationals confirmed dead by authorities in Somalia.

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Authorities said a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into the popular Medina hotel in the southern port town of Kismayo before several heavily armed gunmen forced their way inside, shooting as they went

"The blast rocked the popular Medina hotel formerly known as Cascasey which is located in downtown Kismayo," said security official Abdiweli Mohamed.

"Several gunmen entered and started shooting but the security forces responded quickly and engaged in a gunfight with the terrorists inside the building," he added.

Contrary to earlier reports, the death toll has hit 26, with a total of 10 foreigners confirmed dead. Kenya and Tanzania had a total of six casualties according to Planning and International Cooperation minister Aw Hirsi.

"2 Americans, 1 British, 1 Canadian, 3 Kenyans and 3 Tanzanian citizens* are among the dead in the As-Asey terrorist attack. *Some of these are dual citizens. #KismayoTerrorAttack," he said on Twitter.

Similar number was reported by Voice of America journalist Harun Maruf, who confirmed that a total of 26 people have so far been confirmed dead.

"26 people were killed in Kismayo’s deadliest terrorist attack and the first of its type in the town. 6 foreigners - 3 Kenyans and 3 Tanzanians - are among the dead. 56 are injured many seriously, per officials. Security forces ended seige on hotel As-Asey earlier today," he said.

This was the first major attack in the sea port of Kismayo since 2012 when KDF soldiers liberated the town from Al-Shabaab. There was intensive fighting for over 10 hours with a number of militants reported dead.

KDF troops buoyed by Somali National Army surrounded the building before a number of Al-Shabaab militants managed to escape, reports said.

Celebrated TV host Hodan Nalayeh was among those who were killed. She was mourned by among others National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and former Lagdera MP Farah Maalim.

"Shocked by the death of Hodan Naleye. She was in a unique class of technocrats who held on to the hope of stable Somalia. She sacrificed her life and that of her husband for motherland. Her sacrifice shall not be in vain. Somalia is rising &reaching for the skies. AS on backfoot!" Maalim tweeted.