A car bomb claimed by al Shabaab Islamist militants killed five soldiers outside the president’s palace in the Somali capital of Mogadishu and badly damaged two nearby hotels, police said, according to Reuters.
Reuters witnesses said gunfire could be heard after the explosion and a huge cloud of smoke could be seen above the president’s palace, outside which were the remnants of the car and splattered blood.
“A suicide car bomb exploded outside the presidential palace. So far two hotels opposite the palace are partially destroyed,” police officer Major Mohamed Ali told Reuters by phone.
Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for several recent explosions in Mogadishu, including a car bomb and gun attack last week at a popular beach restaurant in the capital that killed 10 people.
“So far we know five government soldiers died in the blast. It exploded outside the SYL hotel which is also just at the checkpoint outside the palace. We believe the target was SYL which is frequented by officials. The death toll may rise,” police officer Colonel Abdikadir Hussein.