March 22, 2018 / 2:35 PM / 9 months ago

Fourteen killed in blast outside hotel in Somali capital

A security officer from Doorbin Hotel assesses the debris after a suicide car explosion in front of the hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - At least 14 people were killed in an explosion outside a busy hotel in Somalia’s capital on Thursday that was followed by gunfire, police and rescue services said.

Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants claimed responsibility. The group carries out frequent bombings and other attacks in Mogadishu in a campaign to topple Somalia’s Western-backed federal government.

“The blast killed 14 people,” Abdiasis Ali Ibrahim, the spokesman for the internal security minister told Radio Mogadishu, which is run by the state.

Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Amin ambulances, had earlier said 22 people were injured in the blast.

Al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman said his group had been “behind the blast”, adding that the dead included soldiers and officers.

Reuters TV footage showed civilians carrying the wounded on makeshift stretchers to vehicles from Amin, which is the city’s sole ambulance service and is privately-run, as security forces stood around with guns.

At least five three-wheel scooters that were passing on the road had been overturned by the blast.

Reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and David Stamp

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