15 killed as truck bomber strikes hotel near Villa Somalia
A suicide car bomber detonated explosives-packed truck outside a hotel near the hilltop presidential palace in the Somali capital, killing at least 15 people and injured 30 others, police said.
The massive bombing targeted SYL hotel during a meeting by government officials, destroying the compound’s outer wall and left a trail of destruction across the state house which lies nearly 10 meters away.
Police officials told reporters that the bomber managed to speed through nearby checkpoints and roads closed during the high-level meeting by ministers, MPs and civil society members.
“He (bomber) reached near the hotel’s building and detonated the bomb while soldiers were still firing at the car.” Isaq Ahmed, a police officer told Idalenews.com
The attack which occurred with the closure of roads leading to the state house highlights challenges facing Somali government and African Union forces that are struggling to contain a deadly insurgency by the Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group which has immediately claimed the responsibility for the attack.
Ministers and lawmakers are among those injured in the powerful blast which sent plumes of smoke into the sky and blew off roofs from nearby buildings.
Hospitals around the capital were inundated with casualties, including soldiers and civilians, with hospital sources saying most of the wounded suffered light injuries from debris and shrapnel.
The attack comes despite recent warnings of potential attacks by militants amid public discontent of security lapse by security officials that the city’s residents said allowed large amounts of explosives to make their way past multiple checkpoints less than two months before the country holds a presidential election which is due to take place on Oct 30.
Somali leaders have condemned the latest attack; praising security forces ‘swift’ response which they said prevented the bomber from reached his intended location.
Despite a string of territorial gains by allied Somali and AU forces against al-Shabab, the group continues guerilla attacks across large parts of the country.
The radical group still controls towns and village in south and central Somalia.