At least 23 dead in attack in Somalia

Suicide truck bomb explodes outside hotel in Mogadishu, killing at least 23 and wounding more than 30.

Ben Ariel ,

Suicide truck attack in Mogadishu, October 28, 2017
Suicide truck attack in Mogadishu, October 28, 2017

A suicide truck bomb exploded outside a popular hotel in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, on Saturday, killing at least 23 people and wounding more than 30, The Associated Press reports.

Gunfire continued on Saturday night as security forces pursued other attackers inside the building, police said. Two more blasts were heard, one when an attacker detonated a suicide vest.

Speaking to AP by telephone from the scene, Capt. Mohamed Hussein said 30 people, including a government minister, were rescued from the Nasa-Hablod hotel as heavy gunfire continued in the standoff between extremists and security forces.

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 attack 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-Shabaab, Africa's deadliest Islamic terrorist group, quickly claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack and said its fighters were inside the hotel.

Al-Shabaab is blacklisted as a terrorist organization in Australia, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The group has claimed most of the terrorist attacks in Somalia in recent years.

Among the dead were a mother and three children, including a baby, all shot in the head, Hussein told AP. Other victims included a senior Somali police colonel, a former lawmaker and a former government minister.

Security officials said Saturday's bomber had pretended his truck had broken down outside the gate. Police Col. Mohamed Abdullahi said the bomber stopped outside the heavily fortified hotel and pretended to repair the truck before finally turning it around and detonating.

Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said the new attack was meant to instill fear in Somalis who united after the October 14 attack, marching in the thousands through Mogadishu in defiance of Al-Shabaab.