An attack on a hotel in the centre of the port city of Kismayo in southern Somalia killed nine civilians on Sunday before security forces killed the gunmen.
Security officers killed three of the attackers and a fourth died in the bomb blast, said Yussuf Hussein Dhumal, security minister for Jubbaland.
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“In the explosion, nine people including students and civilians were killed and 47 others were injured, some of them seriously,” Dhumal said.
“The hotel where the explosion happened was near a school so many students were injured.”
A car laden with explosives rammed the gate of the hotel and was followed by an attack claimed by the al-Shabab armed group.
The port city is the latest to be hit following a resurgence of bloody attacks in recent months by the al-Qaeda-linked organisation, which has mainly targeted the capital Mogadishu and central Somalia.
Sunday’s assault began at 12:45pm (09:45 GMT) when a booby-trapped car rammed the entrance of Hotel Tawakal.
“This is not a government target,” said police officer Abdullahi Ismail. “It is just an ordinary, civilian-frequented hotel.”
But Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab’s military operation spokesperson, said the group intended to strike Jubbaland region’s administrators who work from the hotel.
Kismayo is the commercial capital of Jubbaland, a region of southern Somalia still partly controlled by al-Shabab, which was driven out of the urban centre in 2012.
The armed group was driven out of Mogadishu by African Union forces in 2011. However, it still controls swaths of the countryside.
The city’s port had been a major source of revenue for the group from taxes, charcoal exports, and levies on arms and other illegal imports.
Al-Shabab has been trying to overthrow the government for more than 15 years and regularly attacks civilian and military targets.
Thousands of Somalis have been killed in a decade-long rebellion.
In August it launched a 30-hour gun and bomb attack on the popular Hayat hotel in Mogadishu, killing 21 people and wounding 117.
In 2019, the group conducted a similar attack on a hotel in Kismayo, killing 26 and injuring 56.