At least 13 people were killed after two car bombs exploded outside a popular hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu Wednesday and gunmen forced their way inside the building and opened fire, police said.
The attack, claimed by the Al-Qaeda aligned Shabaab insurgent group, began when a car loaded with explosives rammed the gate of the Dayah Hotel near the Somali parliament and state house.
Gunmen then stormed the hotel and exchanged fire with security guards.
A second massive blast went off after ambulances and journalists had rushed to the scene, leaving at least four reporters injured, including an Agence France Presse photographer who received shrapnel wounds to his shoulder and leg.
“At least 13 people, including forces and civilians, died in two blasts at the hotel. A dozen others were injured,” Major Mohamed Ahmed, a police officer, told Reuters, adding that the death toll could rise.
The Shabaab group claimed responsibility in a statement distributed on its Telegram messaging account.
“The mujahideen fighters have attacked a hotel and have managed to enter the hotel after detonating a car loaded with explosives,” read the statement.
The Shabaab is fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government of Somalia and regularly stages deadly attacks on government, military and civilian targets in the capital and elsewhere in the war-torn country.
Earlier this month, a bomb explosion at a restaurant in Mogadishu killed three, and a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at a security checkpoint near Mogadishu’s international airport, killing at least three. That blast occurred a few hundred meters from the main base of the African Union peacekeeping mission.