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Somali militants ram car bomb into hotel, killing at least 28

At least seven people were killed after two car bombs exploded outside a popular Mogadishu hotel Wednesday and gunmen forced their way inside the building and opened fire, police said.

world Updated: Jan 25, 2017 20:33 IST
Agencies, Mogadishu
Mogadishu,Al-Qaeda aligned Shabaab,Telegram
Somalis walk near a hotel heavily damaged by a car bomb blast in Mogadishu, Somalia. Gunmen from Somalia's violent Islamic extremist rebels fought their way into a hotel in the Somali capital after a suicide car bomb exploded at its gates, a police officer said Wednesday.(AP Photo)

Islamist militants rammed a car bomb into the gate of a popular hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Wednesday and stormed inside, killing at least 28 people, government officials said.

Gunfire rang out as fighters entered the Dayah Hotel, which is popular with politicians. A second blast shook the area shortly afterwards, injuring several journalists and others nearby.

Colonel Abdiqadir Hussein, a police officer, said security forces eventually managed to secure the building.

“We have rescued the people and concluded the operation at Dayah hotel. The security forces are now inside the hotel and we shall give further details of casualties later,” he said.

A still from a Reuters TV video shows a secondary explosion after a suspected suicide car bomb rammed into the gates of a hotel in Mogadishu. (REUTERS)

Duniye Mohamed, a doctor at Madina hospital, said some of the people taken there were very seriously wounded.

“The preliminary casualty figure is 28; 43 others were wounded in the two blasts at the hotel,” security minister Abdirizak Umar told reporters at the scene.

Several cars and buildings were destroyed by the explosion.

Islamist group al Shabaab, which until 2011 controlled much of Somalia including Mogadishu, claimed responsibility for the attack. “Well-armed mujahideen (fighters) attacked the hotel, and now they are fighting inside the hotel,” said an announcer on Andalus radio, which is linked to al Shabaab.

The insurgents often launch bomb and gun attacks in the capital in their quest to topple the Western-backed government and impose their strict interpretation of Islamic law on the nation.

In the past two years, African Union and Somali forces have driven the group out of key urban strongholds but it remains active from bases in rural areas.

Somalia swore in nearly 300 members of parliament last month. The lawmakers are due to pick the president but that vote has repeatedly been postponed.

First Published: Jan 25, 2017 14:32 IST