Al Shabaab Car Bomb Kills at Least 13 at Mogadishu Hotel Frequented by Foreigners

The attack comes as US President Barack Obama travels to neighboring Ethiopia, where he is expected to discuss the threat posed by the Somali militant group.

by Gillian Mohney
Jul 26 2015, 5:57pm

Photo by Mohamed Sheikh Nor/AP

A large explosion caused by a car bomb blew out walls and killed at least 13 people on Sunday at a hotel in Mogadishu that is popular with foreign diplomats.

Video of the scene showed a large pillar of smoking coming from the Jazeera Palace Hotel near Somalia's main airport. Pictures of the aftermath of the blast showed the hotel severely damaged on one side, with the walls crumbling.

Related: Somalia: The Fight Against al Shabaab

"We have carried 13 dead people and 21 others who were injured, some seriously," Abdikadir Abdirahman, an ambulance worker, told Reuters.

The Somali militant group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the bombing, according to Reuters. The group said the attack was retaliation for recent incursions by African Union and Somali government forces.

"It is a response to attacks and helicopter bombing against al Shabaab by AMISOM and the Somali government," al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab said.

Officials from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia said on Twitter that the violence would not stop their mission.

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The hotel is one of the most fortified in the city, and is frequently used by diplomats coming to the country. "This is really scary — destroying the Jazeera hotel like this means no blast walls can make anyone safe," bystander Yusuf Mohammed told the Associated Press.

One witness who was inside the hotel during the attack said the blast was caused by a truck, according to AFP. "It was a truck loaded with explosives — and the biggest ever [explosion] around this area," Mohamed Moalim said.

While the Somali government has stepped up fighting against al Shaabab, the group has continued to regularly launch attacks in Mogadishu. On Saturday, the group reportedly took responsibility for two attacks that killed a Somali lawmaker, his bodyguard, and an official from the prime minister's office, according to Reuters.

The deadly explosion on Sunday comes as US President Barack Obama travels to Ethiopia from Kenya. He is expected to discuss the threat posed by al Shaabab with Ethiopian leaders.

The Associated Press has contributed to this report