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Al-Shabab claims Somali hotel bombings

At least 11 deaths reported in blasts and firefight between attackers and security officers in Mogadishu.

Last updated: 02 Jan 2014 12:21
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Three bombs exploded within an hour outside a hotel in a heavily fortified district of the Somali capital [Reuters]

Somali rebel group, al-Shabab, has claimed responsibility for two car bombs that left at least 11 people dead near the heavily-guarded international airport in the Somali capital.

"al-Shabab Mujahideen takes full responsibility for last night's attack that targeted a meeting of senior apostate intelligence officials in Mogadishu,"  Sheikh Ali Dheera said on Thursday.

"Apostates will have no safe haven in Somalia." he added.

The first attack happened when a car bomb rammed into one of Mogadishu's top hotels near a UN compound in Mogadishu on Wednesday.

It was followed by a second blast as coinciding emergency services entered, police officer Mohamed Warsame said.

"Another car loaded with explosives went off as security forces were trying to assist victims," police officer Mohamed Warsame said.

The first two bombs came in quick succession and were followed by heavy bursts of gunfire by Somali security forces.

The third blast took place about an hour later when a bomb went off inside a car that was being searched by the military.

Suicide attack

"A booby-trapped car exploded against Hotel Jazeera," said  Muhidin Ahmed, a police officer, referring to the first blast, adding that it caused an unspecified number of deaths.

"It appears to be a suicide attack."

Witnesses reported an intense exchange of gunfire between assailants and security officers. One of the witnesses, Ali Ibrahim, said five people were killed in the gun battle.

Abdullahi Hussein, who lives 300 metres behind the hotel, said first he heard a big crash and the security forces immediately opened fire.

"After a few minutes another explosion took place and there was more gunfire," Hussein said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

The Jazeera hotel, near the international airport, is one of the seaside capital's most upmarket and its clientele includes Somali politicians and visiting foreign officials.

The attacks on one of the securest places in Mogadishu underscore the security challenges facing President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, whose election by lawmakers last year was hailed by many as a way to end two decades of conflict.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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