Two bomb blasts in Somalia’s capital carried out by an al-Qaeda-linked militant group left at least 20 people dead, including two members of parliament and the deputy mayor of Mogadishu.
A car bomb exploded on Friday at the Central Hotel in Mogadishu and then a suicide-bomber came into the compound and detonated his explosives, police captain Mohamed Aloley said in an interview at the scene. Mohamed Aden, another police officer, said by phone that at least 20 people have been confirmed dead, and more than 30 injured.
Somalia-based Islamist militant group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a statement published on the website of pro-al-Shabaab Radio Andalus.
The explosion shook the surrounding neighborhood, Abdirisaq Ali, a police officer who witnessed the attack, said in an interview. The two Somali officials confirmed dead are Mohamed Aden Guled, a deputy mayor of Mogadishu, and lawmaker Omar Furdug, Aloley said.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud condemned the assault and vowed to keep making every effort to wipe out the rebels. Information Minister Mohamed Abdi Hayir Mareye described the attacks in a phone interview as among the most vicious in recent years.
Al-Shabaab has waged an insurgency in the Horn of Africa nation since 2006 in a bid to impose Shariah, or Islamic law. African peacekeepers have joined government forces to stabilize the country, sparking revenge attacks by al-Shabaab outside Somalia’s borders, including in neighboring Kenya where its fighters raided the Westgate mall in Nairobi in 2013, leaving at least 67 people dead.
While the group has lost ground since being driven out of Mogadishu in 2011, it continues to stage deadly gun and bomb attacks in Somalia.