Mogadishu attacks: At least 13 dead as two car bombs hit Somali capital with gunfire heard inside hotel
Two bombs have exploded in the Somali capital of Mogadishu close to the presidential palace and parliamentary buildings.
A suicide car bomb exploded as it was driven into the front of a popular hotel while a second blast was heard shortly after near the former parliament house which had military personnel inside.
Police said a third blast had been heard at the scene of the attack outside the hotel.
Captain Mohamed Hussein told the Associated Press that an attacker detonated a suicide vest.
At least 13 people are reported to have died and more than 16 people are believed to be injured after the first suicide car bomb ploughed into the Nasa-Hablod hotel which is known be be frequented by politicians and members of Mogadishu’s elite.
Captain Hussein said gunfire could be heard inside the hotel and that fighting was continuing inside.
The al-Shabab extremist group has claimed responsibility for the attack and said its fighters were still inside the hotel.
Major Abdullahi Aden, a police officer told Reuters the car bomb exploded at the hotel gate.
“They are fighting inside. So far we do not have casualty figures,” he said.
“It is a busy hotel frequented by lawmakers, (military) forces and civilians.”
A Somali police officer, Nur Mohamed said: “The second car bomb occurred at the ex-parliament house where there were [military] forces.”
The blast in Somalia‘s capital comes two weeks after more than 350 people were killed in a massive truck bombing on a busy Mogadishu street in the country’s worst-ever attack.
The extremist group al-Shabab often targets high-profile areas of Mogadishu.
Since the blast two weeks ago, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has been visiting regional countries to seek more support for the fight against the extremist group.
A 22,000-strong multinational African Union force in Somalia is expected to withdraw its forces and hand over the country’s security to the Somali military by the end of 2020.
The US military also has stepped up military efforts against al Shabab this year in Somalia, carrying out nearly 20 drone strikes.