MOGADISHU Islamist al Shabaab rebels claimed responsibility on Saturday for a bomb that killed six people outside a popular Mogadishu hotel the day before, and said they deliberately targeted government officials and security forces.
Police suspected the militants were behind the blast, the latest in a series of frequent attacks in the Somali capital that highlight the challenge the government faces in restoring order to a nation torn apart by two decades of war and chaos.
"We were behind the two explosions at the hotel," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's military operations spokesman, told Reuters. "We targeted government officials and forces, and killed 15 of them."
A senior police officer said on Friday night at least six people, including four policemen, were killed when a suspected car bomb went off outside the Hotel Maka, a popular meeting place for officials.
He said at the time the death toll could rise because some injuries were serious, but there was no official word of more deaths on Saturday.
Al Shabaab, which was driven out of Mogadishu by an African peacekeeping force in 2011, has said it would keep up its campaign of attacks against the government in the capital.
In September, al Shabaab rebels killed at least 15 people and wounded 23 others in an attack on a popular restaurant using a car bomb and a suicide bomber.
(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)