A legislator and a deputy mayor were among many killed in a suicide bomb attack Friday on a hotel near the presidential palace in the Somalian capital of Mogadishu, a Somali lawmaker said.
One person rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into the gate of the Central Hotel in Mogadishu, and another suicide bomber then entered the hotel and blew himself up, police official Capt. Mohammed Hussein told The Associated Press. The country’s deputy prime minister was also among some government officials wounded by the bombings, he said.
Al-Shabab, an insurgent group, claimed the responsibility for the attack, according to the group’s radio station, Andulus.
Omar Ali Nor and Mogadishu’s deputy mayor Mohamed Aden are among the dead, said lawmaker Mohamed Ali, who could not give an exact death toll.
“A dark day for our country, the death toll is even much higher than that,” Ali said.
Two bloodied bodies were lying outside the hotel in central Mogadishu, as soldiers cordoned off the area and fired bullets into the air to disperse approaching crowds.
Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Omar Arte was rushed to a hospital, and was among several other high-ranking government officials at the hotel at the time of the attack, Hussein said.
Somalia’s president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud condemned the attack on the hotel, saying it would not derail efforts by his government to restore peace to Somalia which is recovering from decades of war.
“We shall continue the anti-terrorism war, this attack makes clear that terrorists don’t have any respect for the peaceful religion of Islam by killing innocent Muslims.” he said in a statement issued after the attack.
This is the second attack on a hotel in Mogadishu in less than a month. On Jan. 22, three Somali nationals were killed when a suicide car bomber blew himself up at the gate of a hotel housing the advance party of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who visited the country days later.
Despite major setbacks in 2014, al-Shabab continues to wage a deadly insurgency against Somalia’s government and remains a threat in Somalia and the East African region. The group has carried out many attacks in Somalia and in neighboring countries, including Kenya, whose armies are part of the African Union troops bolstering Somalia’s weak U.N.- backed government.
Al-Shabab controlled much of Mogadishu during the years 2007 to 2011, but was pushed out of Somalia’s capital and other major cities by African Union forces. SAPA