Death toll rises to 14 in Mogadishu bombings

Death toll rises to 14 in Mogadishu bombings

Death toll rises to 14 in Mogadishu bombings

Two vehicle bombs have killed at least 17 people in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, in a deadly attack claimed by al-Shabab.

Police Officer Ali Mohamed told Anadolu Agency over the phone that a vehicle bomb had targeted the Nasa-hablood hotel near the presidential palace; soon after another auto bomb exploded near the scene.

Police said earlier a suicide vehicle bomb had been rammed into a hotel and a former government building had been attacked.

Security forces cordoned off the area.

The suspected suicide bomber is believed to have detonated near the gate of the hotel close to the presidential palace at around 5pm local time.

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One senior police official and a former MP are among the dead.

Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Mogadishu's Amin ambulance service, said 17 injured people had been carried away from the hotel blast.

A huge cloud of smoke rose over the scene and a Reuters witness saw over a dozen wrecked cars and bloodstains in front of the hotel.

In a written statement, the ministry said on its website: "We strongly condemn this heinous terrorist attack".

The al-Shabab extremist group quickly claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack and said its fighters were inside the hotel. "We are fighting inside", said Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group's military operations spokesman.

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He said the hotel belonged to Somalia's internal security minister, Mohamed Abukar Islow. At least 358 people were killed and about 400 injured, with numerous victims burnt beyond recognition.

The Somali government blamed the October 14 blast on al-Shabab, but no group has claimed responsibility.

Its sister hotel, the Nasahablod, was targeted by Al Shabab in a similar attack that killed 11 people in June a year ago.

Saturday's explosions occurred two weeks after an enormous blast in Mogadishu that killed at least 358 people.

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