Police say 25 killed in Mogadishu blast; al-Shabab claims attack

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MOGADISHU, Somalia At least 25 people were killed after a massive explosion rocked Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Thursday, a police officer told dpa.

Police were among the 25 victims, Ali Hassan Kulmiye said, adding that a truck bomb had gone off in the evening near an upmarket hotel frequented by government officials.

A second blast was heard about an hour after the first, and police said casualty figures could rise.

SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activity, said Islamist group al-Shabab had claimed responsibility.

“We are still trying to establish more about this large-scale attack,” said Somali police officer Ahmed Bashane. “But I think the militants were targeting popular hotels in the area.”

“The situation is very chaotic,” he added. “We suspect there are other cars laden with explosives devices hiding in the area.”

Hours after the attack gunfire could still be heard, and Bashane said some militants were still in the area.

The explosion in Somalia’s capital caused destruction to businesses around the busy Maka Al-Mukarama road, with some of them on fire. Sporadic gunfire could also be heard in the area following the blast.

The blast was so large that it could be felt about five miles away, according to a dpa reporter in Mogadishu.

Vehicles were destroyed and debris struck power lines, setting off other electric explosions and shattering windows of nearby buildings, the reporter said.

Al-Shabab, a group affiliated with the al-Qaida terrorist network, launches regular attacks against government officials, foreigners, hotels and restaurants within the volatile Horn of Africa nation.

In 2017, more than 500 people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated a truck full of explosives in Mogadishu in the group’s worst-ever attack.

Thursday February 28, 2019
By Mohamed Odowa 

 

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