At least fifteen killed in two large blasts in Somalia

Two car bombs explode at hotel in Somali capital killing at least 15 people

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

A policeman runs through burning vehicles at the scene of an explosion near the presidential palace, September 21, 2015.

Early on Sunday two car bombs exploded at the gate of the Sahafi hotel in Mogadishu, which is located in the center of the Somali capital. According to media reports at least fifteen people were killed in the explosion, a police officer said. Al Qaeda affiliated al Shabaab militants later claimed responsibility for the attack.

Security guards clashed with attackers who were in the building, a police officer and security guard said.

Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's military operations spokesman spoke to Reuters and said, "Mujahideen [fighters] entered and took over Sahafi hotel where enemies lived. The operation still goes on." 

The hotel is usually used by legislators and government officials.

"Fighters with machines guns are firing at us from the rooftop of the hotel," Major Osman Ali, a police officer, told Reuters following the second blast.

Although initial reports put the death toll at two, Reuters later confirmed the death toll had risen to fifteen.

Medical sources confirmed that a top Somali military commander, General Gacma Duule, and Somalia's Ambassador to Ethiopia, Abdisalam Haji Adam, were also injured

A witness interviewed by Reuters said following blast the sound of gunfire was heard and a cloud of smoke was seen rising from the area the attack took place.

For many years al Shabaab has frequently carried out violent attacks targeting government officials and civilians.

On September 21 a car bomb exploded close to the presidential palace in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, killing at least seven people. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but al Shabaab was believed to be behind it,

TRTWorld and agencies