A suspected suicide car bomb was rammed into the gate of a hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Wednesday (25 January). Islamist group al-Shabaab, who claimed responsibility for the attack, stormed inside the building, killing 28 people. Gunfire rang out as fighters entered the Dayah Hotel, which is popular with politicians.
A second blast shook the area shortly afterwards, injuring several people nearby. The second blast was caught by a Reuters camera, sending journalists running for cover. A number were injured.
Colonel Abdiqadir Hussein, a police officer, told Reuters security forces later managed to secure the building. "We have rescued the people and concluded the operation at Dayah hotel. The security forces are now inside the hotel and we shall give further details of casualty later," he said. Another police officer, Major Mohamed Ahmed, told Reuters that a dozen people had been wounded, in addition to the 13 killed who included members of the security forces and civilians. "The death toll may rise," he added.
Duniye Mohamed, a doctor at Madina hospital where some casualties were taken, told the news wire that the injured included people with "very serious" wounds.
Until 2011, al-Shabaab controlled Mogadishu and much of Somalia. The insurgents often launch bomb and gun attacks in the capital, saying they want to topple the Western-backed government and impose their strict interpretation of Islam on the nation. In the past two years, a campaign by African Union troops and Somali forces has driven the group out of key urban strongholds, but it remains active from bases in rural areas.
The Horn of Africa country swore in nearly 300 members of its parliament last month. The lawmakers will also pick the president, although that vote has repeatedly been postponed.