Photo: Ahmed Osman/IPS
Wreckage of one of the suicide car bombs used to attack the presidential palace in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital on Friday Feb. 21, 2014. Nine militants were killed in the attack (file photo).
A suicide bomber has detonated a car bomb outside a popular Mogadishu hotel. Several soldiers were killed in the blast near the presidential compound. It is the third attack on the same hotel in less than three years.
The bomb exploded during a traffic jam on Tuesday, police captain Mohamed Hussein said. Officials believe the militants targeted the SYL hotel which frequented by government officials.
The hotel is close to the main checkpoint which protects the entrance to the presidential compound.
"So far we know five government soldiers died in the blast," police officer Colonel Abdikadir Hussein told Reuters. "The death toll may rise."
Another nearby hotel was damaged when the car bomb exploded, officials said.
"I saw a car speeding towards the area and huge smoke and fire went up in the sky," witness Elmi Ahmed told the AFP news agency.
The explosion could be heard across the Somali capital, with witnesses from the scene reporting sporadic gunfire after the incident.
The al-Shabab terror group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack via radio Andalus, which is linked to the organization. They said they targeted the SYL hotel because it "is close to the presidential palace, and also home to apostates and unbelievers."
The latest suicide bombing is the third attack on the same hotel in less than three years. The previous two attacks killed a total of 19 people.
The hotel was popular with government officials, business people and visiting diplomats and delegations. It was previously attacked in February this year and January last year.
dj/jm (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP)
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