Double auto bombing strikes Mogadishu

Two auto bombs exploded Saturday in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, killing unknown numbers of people.

Fighting continued to rage inside the hotel and police said the death toll was likely to rise.

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

Police officer Major Abdullahi Aden told Reuters the auto bomb said: 'They are fighting inside.

Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Amin ambulances, told Reuters the emergency service had carried 17 people injured from the hotel blast. The dead also included a former member of parliament, he said.

"The Mujahedeen fighters are inside Nasa Hablod 2 hotel where... apostate officials are staying", it said. He suffered small injuries on his shoulder and head from flying glass.

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Police Colonel Mohamed Abdullahi says the bomber stopped outside the heavily fortified hotel and pretended to fix the vehicle before finally turning it around and detonating.

"We can hear the gunfire but it is hard to know who is fighting, the forces cordoned off the building and no one can go close to it", said Abdulahi Nure.

Al-Shabab, Africa's deadliest Islamic extremist group, quickly claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack and said its fighters were inside the hotel.

The Shabaab has made attacks on hotels - commonly beginning with a suicide auto bombing followed by an invasion by gunmen - a regular strategy in its decade old battle to overthrow successive internationally-backed governments in Mogadishu.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has been appealing to neighbouring countries in a bid to drum up support in the fight against the Islamic extremist terror cult.

The US has been actively involving in trying to combat the group, launching 20 drone strikes.

  • Megan Austin