29 October, 2017
The Somali capital Mogadishu was struck by twin vehicle bombings claimed by Al Shabab on Saturday, the first major attack in city since a lorry bombing two weeks ago that left more than 350 dead.
"So far at least seven people including soldiers and civilians died", Mohamed Hussein, a police officer, told Reuters.
"The first attack was caused by a suicide auto bomber targeting the Nasa-hablood hotel; at least 10 people were killed, more than eight others wounded".
He said he saw at least three armed men in military uniforms running toward the hotel after the bombing at its gate.
"Security forces have entered a small portion of the hotel building ... the exchange of gunfire is hellish", he said.
A taxi driver at the scene told AFP he saw four bodies being carried away, while another witness called Yusuf Moalim said a senior police official appeared to be among the victims, whose auto had been near the hotel entrance when the blast occurred.
A huge cloud of smoke rose over the hotel and there were more than a dozen wrecked cars outside.More news: Man in Panthers Jersey Arrested After Sucker Punching Another Fan During TNF
The Somali militant group Al Shabab said it carried out the bombings.
"We can hear the gunfire but it is hard to know who is fighting, the forces cordoned off the building and no one can go close to it", said Abdulahi Nure.
He said the hotel belonged to Somalia's internal security minister, Mohamed Abukar Islow.
The attack happened as the country's leaders converged in Mogadishu for a high level security meeting following the October 14 truck bombing that killed more than 350 people.
Nasa-hablood hotel is located near the presidential palace in Mogadishu.
Three of the five attackers were killed, Capt Hussein said.
President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohammed, escaped death on Saturday, after the al-Shabab militant group attacked Hotel Naasa-Hablood, where he was scheduled to hold a meeting.