At least ten people including government officials were killed and more than 20 injured on Friday when the al-Shabaab extremists launched a devastating suicide attack on hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu, security sources have confirmed.
The militants were wearing suicide vests, and armed with grenades and AK-47 rifles attacked the Central hotel before the Friday prayers. The explosion could be heard across Mogadishu and a plume of smoke rose above the site of the blast.
Government officials including ministers, Members of Parliament and regional administrators sheltered in the basement of the Central hotel which is very close to the heavily guarded presidential palace, as gunmen entered after an explosion at the main entrance.
‘’ The gunmen first blast the entrance gate of the hotel compound and blew themselves up while the officials were getting ready to attend the prayers,’’ said one of the survivors.
Witnesses described hearing several rounds of gunfire before and after the blast.
A spokesman from the al-Qaeda linked militant group immediately claimed the responsibility of the attack.
There are other conflicting reports saying that the Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Omar Arte who was among the officials in the hotel was injured in the blast.
Though al-Shabaab was pushed out of key towns in South and Central Somalia, the group has been able to hit high-profile targets in Mogadishu’s heavily fortified areas, including the national courts, the UN compound, the Turkish embassy, and popular gathering places.
The latest deadly attacks comes while the security officials launched massive operations in the capital following a week of assassinations on government officials.