At least five people were killed in a suicide car bomb attack that targeted a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu near the presidential palace yesterday. Al-Shabaab militant group claimed responsibility for the attack.
A Somali policeman named Mohammed Abdel-Qader said that “The number of victims is limited compared to the force of the huge explosion”. He added “We can confirm that five people, including a security guard, have been killed”. A Somali security forces official Ibrahim Mohammed told Agence France-Presse that “An explosion occurred in the vicinity of the Somali Youth League (SYL) hotel near the main checkpoint for the presidential palace”. A resident of Mogadishu Hilmi Ahmed said “I saw a car travelling at high speed towards the area” and that “a blaze and a cloud of thick smoke rose to the sky after the huge explosion”.
Al-Shabaab militant group which is affiliated to Al-Qaeda immediately claimed responsibility for the attack and said that “A suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives targeted a hotel”.
The SYL hotel is located near Villa Somalia which serves as the official residential palace and the prime minister’s offices. The complex is surrounded by tight security measures. This is the third time that the SYL hotel has been targeted by Al-Shabab during the last eighteen months. Five Somalis were killed during the first attack in January 2015 on a hotel where members of a Turkish delegation were staying. The delegation was in Somalia for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Mogadishu which was scheduled for the following day.
On the 26th of February, the SYL hotel was targeted once again, this time killing 14 people. A truck and a car laden with explosives exploded within a few minutes of each other near the SYL hotel and Mogadishu’s Peace Garden that is frequented by the city’s residents. The government described the attack in February as the “largest” that had taken place in Mogadishu, and the amount of explosives that were used are estimated at 200 kg.
A group of extremists belonging to Al-Shabab attacked a sea-side restaurant in Mogadishu last Thursday, killing seven people. Al-Shabaab has vowed to eradicate the Somali government but faces a superior military force from the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) which has been deployed there since 2007. AMISOM expelled Al-Shabab from Mogadishu in August 2011.