At least 17 dead as three vehicle bombs explode in Somalia

GUNFIRE Guards at Hotel Sahafi and CID officers opened fire after the blasts

GUNFIRE Guards at Hotel Sahafi and CID officers opened fire after the blasts

People rescue a wounded person following three blasts of suicide bomb vehicle attacks in Mogadishu, on 9 November 2018.

The militant Islamist group al Shabaab, linked to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack on the Hotel Sahafi, which is near the headquarters of Somalia's Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

Guards at Hotel Sahafi and CID officers opened fire after the blasts, police added.

About 20 people were killed and dozens wounded on Friday (Nov 9) in a string of explosions near a popular hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu, police said. "The death toll is sure to rise", Ali Nur, a police officer in the city, told Reuters.

A witness who was inside the hotel at the time said on condition of anonymity that the front of the building was destroyed by the force of the explosions, which blew out windows.

An initial "two blasts struck the perimeter of the Sahafi hotel along the main road", said police official Ibrahim Mohamed, who earlier gave a preliminary toll of more than 10 dead.

"The target of the attack was the Sahafi hotel and even though the attackers used auto bombs to make their way into the premises, the security forces stopped them", said Ahmed. Security forces shot dead four gunmen who tried to storm through a hole in the hotel's wall but did not succeed in entering.

A Reuters photographer at the scene saw 20 bodies of civilians and burnt-out minibuses, motorbikes and cars. "Abdifatah Abdirashid, the hotel owner, and three of his bodyguards died", Abdiqani said.

Al-Shabab said it targeted government officials staying at the hotel.

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