At least 10 people died Wednesday after two suicide car bombers attacked the popular Jazeera Palace hotel in Mogadishu, in a warning by an Islamist group about New Year’s celebrations.
Government soldiers were among the dead, and a number of other people were injured, according to security officials.
“It’s early to say the exact figure for the losses or just wounded people for these latest attacks, but we have now that up to 10 people dead in these suicide attacks,” Mohamed Hassan, a security official said.
There were also reports of hit and run attacks and hand-grenade bombings on Somali government troop bases in different areas of the capital since New Year’s Eve.
Islamist militia group al-Shabaab claimed credit for the attack on the hotel, which is located along the road to the Aden Adde international airport. Somali security forces sealed off the bombing site.
Al-Shabaab’s senior official Sheikh Ali Hussein, who is also known as Abu Jabal, said that some of their fighters were behind the attacks.
“Yes, we did this. It was a sacred attack and hit its target. It is not the first and would not be the last,” he said. “We are warning residents in Mogadishu to stay away from the areas of the infidels and so-called Somali government bases.” The group warned residents and local hotels against holding or attending ceremonies and celebrations to welcome the New Year.
The attacks came as the Somali government and African Union peacekeeping troops started earlier this week workong on military preparations in al—Shabaab held—areas of south and central Somalia.
Residents said the first car bomb triggered fires and set ablaze other vehicles. After firefighters and ambulances arrived, the second and more powerful bomb went off.
“Bits of human flesh are scattered around and outside of the targeted hotel,” Hassan said.
Just last week, at least seven people were killed and more than five wounded in a restaurant bombing in Mogadishu.
In September, three suicide bombers attacked Jazeera Palace as Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was meeting with Kenyan officials just two days after his election. He escaped unharmed.