Powerful blast hits Somali capital; casualties reported
At least five Somalian soldiers have been killed in a powerful bomb explosion that hit near the presidential palace in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Local media said the Tuesday bomb attack, which partially destroyed two hotels opposite the president’s residents, left 10 people, including a lawmaker, wounded.
“So far, we know five government soldiers died in the blast. It exploded outside the SYL hotel which is also just at the checkpoint outside the palace. We believe the target was SYL which is frequented by officials. The death toll may rise,” said police officer Colonel Abdikadir Hussein.
A witness also said he “saw a car speeding towards the area and huge smoke and fire went up in the sky.”
Local sources reported widespread damage to buildings in the area.
Shortly afterwards, the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility for the blast.
The Takfiri group said it attacked the SYL hotel because it “is close to the presidential palace, and also home to apostates and unbelievers.”
The hotel had already come under similar attacks in February this year and January 2015.
In another development late on Monday, al-Shabab militants attacked military bases hosting army and African Union troops south west of the capital, leaving a soldier and two attackers dead.
Al-Shabab has carried out a series of deadly attacks in Somalia over the past years to try to overthrow the government.
On August 26, some 10 people were killed in another al-Shabab car bomb attack targeting a beach restaurant in Mogadishu.
A few days earlier, more than 20 people lost their lives when two bombs hit a local government headquarters in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region.
The African country has been the scene of deadly clashes between government forces and al-Shabab militants since 2006.
The group has been pushed out of Mogadishu and other major cities by government and African Union troops but continues to carry out attacks in Mogadishu.