Africa

Somalia al-Shabab: Deadly double car bombing near presidential palace

Smoke rises from a street in Mogadishu after the bombing Image copyright Universal TV / Reuters
Image caption The attack was claimed by Islamist militants

Two car-bomb attacks have killed at least 38 people in the Somali capital Mogadishu, officials say.

The first took place outside the presidential palace late on Friday. The second hit a nearby hotel. Dozens of people were wounded.

The Islamist militant group al-Shabab, which has been trying to oust Somalia's government, says it was behind both.

A gun battle followed the attack near the presidential palace in which five militants were killed, officials say.

Friday's bombings are the latest in a series of attacks attributed to al-Shabab, which once controlled Mogadishu before being forced out by African Union troops in 2011.

Last October, more than 500 people were killed by a truck bomb in the city. Officials blamed al-Shabab but the group never said it was behind that attack.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Injured civilians were taken to hospital

The latest incident began when a vehicle failed to stop at a checkpoint outside the presidential palace before being blown up, state media say. This was followed by an exchange of fire between militants and security forces.

Then a parked car exploded near the hotel. However, al-Shabab said it had targeted security forces.

The group said five of its fighters, including the two drivers, had been "martyred" and 35 soldiers were killed in the attacks.

A police spokesman told Reuters news agency: "There were many military soldiers who guarded the street adjacent to the palace."

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