Double vehicle bombing strikes Mogadishu

Double vehicle bombing strikes Mogadishu

Two auto bombs have killed at least 17 people in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, in a deadly attack claimed by al-Shabab.

A witness said a second explosion went off just when a truck tried to tow a small vehicle from the scene as rescue teams were trying to access the scene.

Saturday's blasts came two weeks after more than 350 people were killed in a massive truck bombing on a busy Mogadishu street in the country's worst-ever attack.

"About 14 people, a lot of them civilians, were confirmed dead so far and the security forces are still working to ensure the area is clear", said security official Mohamed Moalim Adan.

Local media reported that heavily-armed gunmen had stormed the Nasa-hablood hotel after the explosion and a gunbattle continues to rage on inside.

According to Somali national news agency (SONNA), former MP Abdinasir Garane and former police commissioner of Daynile district Mohamed Yusuf were among the dead.

The Nasa-Hablod hotel is frequented by government ministers, lawmakers and Somali business leaders.

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The first explosion was reportedly caused by a vehicle bomb.

The Somali militant group Al Shabab said it carried out the bombings. Security forces cordoned off the area.

President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohammed, escaped death on Saturday, after the al-Shabab militant group attacked Hotel Naasa-Hablood, where he was scheduled to hold a meeting.

United States military officials and others in recent months have expressed concern that Somali forces are not yet ready.

The attack happened as the country's leaders converged in Mogadishu for a high level security meeting following the October 14 truck bombing that killed more than 350 people.

The US military also has stepped up military efforts against al Shabab this year in Somalia, carrying out almost 20 drone strikes, as the global war on extremism moves deeper into the African continent.

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