Death toll rises after car bomb attack in Somalia

Al Shabab militants claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb attack which targeted the SYL Hotel close to the presidential palace in Mogadishu, killing at least 22 people.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Security forces outside the SYL Hotel near the presidential palace which was damaged by a suicide car bomb attack in Mogadishu on August 30, 2016.

Updated Aug 31, 2016

At least 22 people were killed in a suicide car bomb attack outside a popular hotel close to the presidential palace in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Tuesday.

The al Qaeda aligned al Shabab militants claimed responsibility for the attack.

They said the target was the Somali Youth League Hotel - commonly known as SYL Hotel - because "it is close to the presidential palace, and also home to apostates and unbelievers."

"We have confirmed from various hospitals that at least 22 died and 50 others were wounded. Death includes wounded people who died in hospitals," police officer Major Mohamed Abdullahi told Reuters.

Police officer Mohamed Abdulkadir said the vehicle rammed through a checkpoint and was fired on by security forces before it exploded.

An eyewitness described seeing a large blast and a thick plume of smoke that rose high into the air.

"I saw a car speeding towards the area and huge smoke and fire went up in the sky," said Elmi Ahmed.

An AFP journalist at the scene described widespread damage to buildings in the area.

A general view shows Somali government forces securing at the scene of a car bomb claimed by al Shabab militants outside the president's palace in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, August 30, 2016.

The fortified hotel, popular with government officials, business people and visiting diplomats and delegations, was previously attacked in both February this year and January last year.

The January 2015 attack killed at least five people when a suicide car bomber rammed the hotel gates on the eve of a visit by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In February this year, 14 people were killed when twin blasts were triggered close to the hotel and the neighbouring Peace Garden on a busy Friday afternoon.

Both previous attacks were also claimed by al Shabab, which quit the capital five years ago, but continues to launch attacks against government, military, civilian and foreign targets in its fight to overthrow the internationally-backed government.

The group is expected to try and violently disrupt elections due to be held in September and October.

Al Shabab has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and NATO.

TRTWorld and agencies