Al-Shabaab: 'Norwegian 60-Year-old Suicide Bomber' Attacked Somali Hotel
Somali and African Union soldiers have been involved in a military offensive against Al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab Reuters

Somalia's Islamist militant group al-Shabaab has claimed that a suicide bomber who blew himself up at a hotel in the east African country was an elderly Norwegian national.

Six soldiers, including a top army commander, were killed when a hotel frequented by Somali and African Union officials in Bulo-Burte, central Somalia, was hit by a suicide car bomb and subsequently attacked by al-Shabaab gunmen.

"The attacker of Bulo-Burte was a 60-year-old man who came from Norway to fight the enemies of Allah," al-Shabaab military spokesman Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Musab told AFP.

"He paid the sacrifice in order to be close to Allah by killing his enemies. The event is showing us that there is no age limit for jihad."

Abu Musab named the attacker as Abdullahi Ahmed Abdulle, saying he was a Norwegian citizen of Somali origin.

After it was formed in 2006, al-Shabaab exploited Somalia's lawlessness and took over large swathes of the country, which it turned into a safe haven for jihadi training, attracting a large number of foreign extremists.

Dozens of westerners, including Britons, are known to have joined the ranks of the al-Qaida-linked group in recent years.

Among the most famous examples are British native Samantha Lewthwaite, 29, the widow of one of the 7/7 London bombers, and Omar Hammami, 28, an Alabama native who came to international prominence when he posted a series of YouTube videos in which he rapped about jihad.

A Norwegian national was initially named as a suspect in the group's terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, Kenya, last year.

The attack on Bulo-Burte came after the town was captured by African Union and Somali forces last week, as part of a largely successful ongoing military offensive to regain full control of the Horn of Africa from the Islamist group.

The world's oldest suicide bomber is believed have been Fatma Omar An-Najar, a 64-year-old grandmother, from Gaza who blew herself up in an attack on Israeli troops in Gaza in 2006.