Al Jazeera’s Barry Malone explains who al-Shabab are and what they stand for.
At least 10 people have been killed in a car bombing at the gate of a hotel in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
Ambulance sirens and gunfire were heard on Sunday near the Jazeera Palace Hotel, frequented by government officials and dignitaries and home to several embassies, soon after the blast.
The armed group al-Shabab, which frequently launches bomb and gun attacks against officials and others in Mogadishu in its bid to topple Somalia’s government, quickly claimed responsibility.
“A suicide car bomb exploded at the gate of Jazeera Hotel,” Major Nur Osoble, a police officer, told Reuters news agency.
The AU force in Somalia (AMISOM) said it was helping to evacuate the wounded.
The hotel has been the target of al-Shabab attackers in the past, including in 2012 when suicide bombers stormed the hotel while President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was inside.
On Saturday al-Shabab fighters killed Abdulahi Hussein Mohamud, a parliament member, spraying his vehicle with gunfire as he travelled through a southern district of Mogadishu, killing him, his two guards and the driver.
UPDATE: There have been a few civilian deaths near the street, but we're thankful for the survival of hundreds inside hotel for a workshop.
— INTERNAL SECURITY MN (@MoIS_Somalia) July 26, 2015
Al-Shabab said in a statement that its “Mujahideen fighters targeted and killed a member of the parliament and his guards”, adding that it “will continue targeting” legislators.
The attack on Sunday comes a day after US President Barack Obama said during his visit to Nairobi, in neighbouring Kenya, that while al-Shabab had been “weakened”, the overall security threat posed by it remained.
“We have been able to decrease their effective control within Somalia and have weakened those networks operating here in East Africa,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean the problem is solved.”