At least 12 people are reported to have been killed in an attack on a hotel in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Sunday.
The attack happened around 4 p.m when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car at the gate of the hotel, which is close to the main airport.
The explosion could be heard across Mogadishu and a plume of smoke rose above the site of the blast.
Al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremist group that has carried out many attacks in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the assault on the hotel, which is popular with Somali government officials and foreigners, including ambassadors and UN senior officials.
“The building was badly hit, the explosion was very big,” said one of the witnesses. “There were very many wounded people too, many of them seriously.”
Al-Jazeera is one of the popular and heavily guarded hotels in Mogadishu. Located in a strategic area, it has been a high-profile target for al-Shabaab who claim it is one of the ‘’government bases’’.
The blast was the latest in a series of insurgent attacks in the Somali capital. On Saturday, the militants killed a member of the Federal Parliament and a senior official working with the Prime Minister.
Al Shabaab insurgents have staged a string of assaults in their fight to overthrow the country’s internationally-backed government. They have targeted hotels, the international airport, Villa Somalia, a United Nations compound and restaurants in a bid to discredit claims by the authorities and AU troops that they are winning the war.
Published: July 26, 2015