At least 10 killed in Mogadishu blasts

GUNFIRE Guards at Hotel Sahafi and CID officers opened fire after the blasts

Al-Shabab said it targeted government officials staying at the hotel.

MOGADISHU: The death toll from a string of auto bombings near a popular hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu has jumped to at least 41, police said on Saturday.

According to the police, a group of gunmen then tried to access the hotel but were killed by armed guards. "Most of these people were civilians who were passing by the area when the attack occurred", Abdulahi Ahmed, a Somali security official, said.

The first two blasts took place nearly simultaneously at 4 p.m. outside the Sahafi hotel, while the third came 20 minutes later in the garage of the adjacent Hayat hotel.

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An initial "two blasts struck the perimeter of the Sahafi hotel along the main road", said police official Ibrahim Mohamed, who earlier gave a preliminary toll of more than 10 dead. "Many more were wounded", witness Abdirahman Suleyman told AFP.

Despite only claiming responsibility for two suicide auto bombs, a third suicide bombing, which occurred later than the first two, was reported by both local and regional media. "Abdifatah Abdirashid, the hotel owner, and three of his bodyguards died", Abdiqani said.

Shabaab has remained a persistent threat to the Somali government and neighboring countries despite efforts by both the African Union and the USA to defeat it over the past decade.

"The target of the attack was the Sahafi hotel and even though the attackers used vehicle bombs to make their way into the premises, the security forces stopped them", said Ahmed. These Shabaab assaults have forced African Union troops to withdraw from several cities and towns in southern Somalia.

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