MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A suicide car bombing targeting a Mogadishu hotel by the Islamist group Al Shabaab on Thursday killed at least 10 people and destroyed buildings in the Somali capital’s busiest street, police said.
It was one of the heaviest blasts to have hit Mogadishu in recent times.
It took place in a business center in Maka Al Mukaram street which has hotels, shops and restaurants, Police Major Mohamed Hussein told Reuters. Cars in the street were set ablaze.
“Over ten people died. A hotel is burning and other buildings were ruined by the blast. Twenty injured people were carried out. We believe more dead bodies are in the ruined buildings,” Police Major Abdullahi Ali said.
Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.
“We targeted and stormed Hotel Maka Al Mukaram. We are still inside it,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al Shabaab’s military spokesman, said.
Ali said he did not believe the militants were inside the hotel. “But anything can happen because it is dark in some of the buildings because the blast cut the electric wires,” he said.
Stinking gases from the blast reached several kilometers away from the scene.
Somalia has been convulsed by lawlessness and violence since 1991. Islamist group Al Shabaab is fighting to dislodge a Western-backed government protected by African Union-mandated peacekeepers.
Reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar in Mogadishu; Additional reporting by Abdiqani Hassan in Garowe; writing by Omar Mohammed; editing by Andrew Heavens, William Maclean