Several Killed, 45 wounded in Somalia car-bomb attacks

Image via AP

Image via AP

Three vehicle bomb explosions and gunfire rocked the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Friday, killing at least 23 people in addition to four gunmen, witnesses and health officials said.

Twin auto bombs exploded within moments of each other, followed by gunfire and a third blast, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the sky.

The police said that guards at Hotel Sahafi and CID officers opened fire after the blasts.

The first two blasts took place nearly simultaneously at 4 p.m. outside the Sahafi hotel, while the third came 20 minutes later in the garage of the adjacent Hayat hotel.

Officials on Friday had put the death toll at about 20.

No group immediately claimed responsibility but Islamists from the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group have mounted regular attacks in the capital.

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Somali security officials who responded to the attack say four militants entered the hotel and went to the roof, firing on people down below.

Hussein Nur, a shopkeeper who suffered light shrapnel injuries on his right hand, said: "The street was crowded with people and cars, bodies were everywhere. Abdifatah Abdirashid, the hotel owner, and three of his bodyguards died", Abdiqani said. "I could see people screaming as they fled the buses", witness Fadumo Ali told AFP.

The bombs destroyed parts of the hotel perimeter despite layered security, and several shops and other buildings nearby were flattened.

"This area is always dense and traffic jams are normal".

"Two martyrdom operations and a special forces attack on the Sahafi hotel in the center of Mogadishu, where government officers and officials reside, which was adopted by Shabaab", the group's short statement reads.

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