KABUL: (Middle East Press) Some twelve people have been killed and scores of others sustained injuries in two powerful car bomb blasts that ripped through the embattled Somali capital city of Mogadishu.
Major Ahmed Nur, a police officer, said a bomber hit his vehicle rigged with explosives into the gate of Sahafi Hotel, which is popular with government employees and businessmen and situated near the major K4 roundabout in the center of Mogadishu, early on Sunday morning.
The force of the explosion damaged parts of the building, and sent a plume of black smoke above the capital. A number of cars parked in the area were wrecked, and several motorbikes destroyed.
Shortly afterwards, a second explosion rocked the hotel building, and Somali security forces engaged in an intense exchange of gunfire with the assailants, who had made their way into the building.
“Fighters with machine guns are firing at us from the rooftop of the hotel,” said Major Osman Ali, a Mogadishu police officer.
Al-Shabab militants have claimed responsibility for the attack with group’s military operations spokesman, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, saying that the “operation still goes on.”
The developments came only a day after al-Shabab stormed two military bases in the villages of Moora-Gaabey and Garasweyne, which lie close to the southwestern town of Hudur.
Local residents reported explosions followed by gunfire that lasted for three hours. Regional official Adan Abdi said more than 50 militants were killed in the fighting.
Shabab spokesman, Abdiaziz Abu Mus’ab, claimed that 25 soldiers, including 15 Ethiopian peacekeepers, were killed in the clashes.