A suicide car bomber crashed into a gate outside a hotel in the Somali capital, and the attack was followed by gunfire, killing at least 15 people including two members of parliament, police said.
The attack happened shortly before the arrival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Mogadishu. Tayyip will oversee the opening of Turkish sponsored projects including health facilities and Turkish Embassy offices in Mogadishu.
Major Ibrahim Hassan, a police officer, told Reuters that two MPs were among those killed: “Lawmakers Mohamud Mohamed and Abdullahi Jamac died in the hotel. They lived in it. Many other people including lawmakers were rescued.The death is 15 dead and 20 others wounded.”
Al-Shabab fighters claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack targeting Mogadishu’s Ambassador Hotel, which is frequented by diplomats, government officials and Somalis visiting from abroad.
“We targeted the members of the apostate government … We killed many of them inside and we shall give details later. Our mujahideen are on the top floor of the hotel building,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabaab’s military operation spokesman, told Reuters.
Fighting was still going on in the later hours of Wednesday June 1,2015. Sources said two suspects were still holed up at the top floor of the hotel. Authorities also said the suspects could be armed with suicide vests and may be holding hostages.
Mogadishu police said some fighters had apparently burst into the hotel.
Sources told East Africa Daily that at least three fighters were involved in the attack.
Also before the hotel attack, government officials announced two strikes against the militants – one of which killed the head of the al-Shabaab intelligence unit. The other killed the suspected mastermind of an attack on a university in Kenya last year, in which 148 people died.
Abdifatah Omar, Mogadishu’s municipality spokesman, said that security forces had killed a man known only as Daud who had headed al-Shabaab’s intelligence wing. Omar did not say when he was killed or give any other details.
In the second incident, Abdirashid Hassan Abdi, the semi-autonomous Jubbaland region’s security minister, said its forces had killed 16 al-Shabaab fighters in Bulagadud, around 30km to the north of the Indian Ocean port of Kismayu.
Among the dead, he said, was Mohamud Ali Dulyadeyn, suspected to have masterminded the April 2015 attack on Garissa University, the worst such assault in Kenya in almost 20 years.
The Pentagon also said on Wednesday that a US airstrike had targeted a senior leader of al-Shabaab in Somalia but it was still assessing the results of the 27 May drone operation.
The Pentagon’s spokesman, Peter Cook, said the target, Abdullahi Haji Da’ud, was one of al-Shabaab’s senior military planners and served as a principal coordinator of attacks in Somalia, Kenya and Uganda.
Al-Shabab, which seeks to topple Somalia’s government, was driven out of Mogadishu by the African Union force AMISOM in 2011, and last year was ousted from strongholds elsewhere in the south by AMISOM and the Somali National Army.