Attack on Mogadishu hotel

  • 29/10/2017
Somali security officers assess the damage. Photo credit: Reuters

The death toll in a truck bombing at a hotel in Somalia's capital is now 23 after rescue workers found the bodies of a woman and three children, including a baby.

All were shot in the head, Captain Mohamed Hussein said when attackers entered the hotel after the bombing on Saturday in Mogadishu, and a gunbattle with security forces continued there.

Speaking to The Associated Press by telephone from the scene, Capt Hussein said more than 20 people, including government officials, were thought to be trapped as security forces battled extremists holed up on the top floor of the Nasa-Hablod hotel, close to the presidential palace.

Security officials say the bomber had pretended his truck had broken down outside the gate of the hotel.

Police Colonel Mohamed Abdullahi says the bomber stopped outside the heavily fortified hotel and pretended to repair the truck before finally turning it around and detonating.

Gunfire continued as security forces pursued more attackers inside the building.

Two more blasts were heard, one when an attacker detonated a suicide vest.

Three of the five attackers were killed, Hussein said. The others hurled grenades and cut off the building's electricity as night fell.

Saturday's blasts came two weeks after more than 350 people were killed in a massive truck bombing on a busy Mogadishu street in the country's worst-ever attack.

Al-Shabab, Africa's deadliest Islamic extremist group, quickly claimed responsibility for the attack and said its fighters were inside the hotel. As night fell, sporadic gunfire could be heard as soldiers responded.

A senior Somali police colonel, a former lawmaker and a former government minister were among the dead, Hussein said. Footage from the scene showed twisted vehicles and nearby buildings with only walls left standing.