Hotel in Somali capital Mogadishu hit by car bombs

The BBC's Emily Thomas says al-Shabab have claimed responsibility for the attack

Two car bombs have exploded outside a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu, killing at least 10 people.

The blasts were at the Jazeera hotel which is frequented by Somali politicians and foreigners.

Reports say the blasts were followed by exchanges of fire between security forces and the attackers.

The Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabab, which was driven out of Mogadishu in 2011, said it carried out the attack.

The al-Qaeda-linked group still controls many southern and central areas of the country and has continued to launch attacks on the capital.

More gunfire

"First we heard a big crash and the security forces immediately opened fire," local resident Abdullahi Hussein told Reuters.

"After a few minutes another explosion took place and there was more gunfire," he said.

Al-Shabab At A Glance

  • "The Youth" in Arabic
  • Formed as a radical offshoot of the Union of Islamic Courts, which controlled Mogadishu, in 2006
  • Previously ran much of southern Somalia
  • Lost some popular support by banning Western aid agencies during 2011 famine
  • Estimated to have 7,000 to 9,000 fighters
  • Announced merger with al-Qaeda in 2012

Four members of the security services were among the dead, including one senior officer, the deputy interior minister told the BBC's Somali service.

Police officer Mohamed Warsame told the AFP agency that the second bomb went off as security services were trying to help the victims of the first blast.

The Jazeera hotel, which is near the airport, was also targeted in December 2012, when President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was staying there. At least seven people died in that attack.

Last week at least 11 people, including six soldiers, were killed by a remote-controlled bomb in a restaurant in Mogadishu.

Al-Shabab is banned as a terrorist group by both the US and the UK and is believed to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters.

Although it has lost control of the towns and cities, its writ still runs in many rural areas.

It has imposed a strict version of Sharia law in such areas, including stoning to death women accused of adultery and amputating the hands of thieves.

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