Al Shabaab claims auto bomb attack in Somalia, 17 dead

Somalian flag

"Two martyrdom operations and a special forces attack on the Sahafi hotel in the center of Mogadishu, where government officers and officials reside, which was adopted by Shabaab", the group's short statement reads.

Following a series of deadly suicide auto bombs inside Somalia's capital Mogadishu today, al Qaeda's East African branch, Shabaab, has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

"So far we have confirmed 17 civilians dead".

Witnesses said a third blast came from a suicide bomber who detonated an explosives-laden vest at the hotel's front entrance, as three attackers in Somali military uniform were shot at the rear entrance.

Police official Ibrahim Mohamed said information received from various hospitals indicated that the number of dead had reached 41, with another 106 wounded. "The death toll is sure to rise".

Despite only claiming responsibility for two suicide vehicle bombs, a third suicide bombing, which occurred later than the first two, was reported by both local and regional media. "So in total 28 people died, including the six militants".

Sahafi Hotel owner Abdifatah Abdirashid was a renowned businessman who took over running the hotel from his father, Abdirashid Mohamed.

A Reuters photographer at the scene saw 20 bodies of civilians and several burnt-out shells of mini-buses, motor-bikes and private saloon cars.

Fifty-two Somali officials were rescued from the Sahafi Hotel and the Hayat Hotel, he said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but Islamists from the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group have mounted regular attacks in the capital.

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