At least 10 people have been killed & more than 50 wounded following a car bomb and gun attack at a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia.
The attack, claimed by the Al-Qaeda-aligned al Shabab insurgent group, began when a car loaded with explosives rammed the gate of the Dayah Hotel near the Somali parliament and state house.
Gunmen then stormed the hotel and exchanged fire with security guards, according to police official Ibrahim Mohammed.
Attackers detonated a truck bomb outside the gates of the Dayah hotel — which is near the country’s parliament building and popular with both lawmakers and government officials — before storming inside, Somali Police Major Ahmed Ibrahim told CNN.
A second massive blast went off after ambulances and journalists had already rushed to the scene, leaving at least four reporters injured, including an AFP photographer who suffered shrapnel wounds to his shoulder and leg.
AFP images showed security forces and civilians milling about outside the devastated hotel — its windows and doors blown out — after the first explosion, when a second car exploded with a massive blast, sending thick plumes of smoke into the air and sending people fleeing.
Gunfire rang out from the hotel as civilians and rescue workers carried away the injured.
Ali Hajji, the head nurse at the nearby Hayad hospital, says the death toll is likely to rise because of the number of people seriously injured.
“So far we have counted about seven dead, most of them civilians and security guards. There are also many people who were wounded in the two blasts,” said Mohammed.
“Two gunmen were killed and the area is under control of security forces,” he said.
The Shabab group claimed responsibility in a statement distributed on its Telegram messaging account.
“The mujahideen fighters have attacked a hotel and have managed to enter the hotel after detonating a car loaded with explosives,” it said.
The Shabab is fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government of Somalia and regularly stages deadly attacks on state, military and civilian targets in the capital and elsewhere in the war-torn country.
The hotel attack is the deadliest so far in Somalia in 2017 and comes as the country is in the midst of a drawn-out election process to choose a new government.