27 Jul 2015

Bomb explosion rocks Somalia hotel

10:32 am on 27 July 2015

At least 13 people have been killed and more than 40 others injured in a huge bomb explosion at a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

A BBC correspondent in the city said a lorry was used to attack the Jazeera Palace Hotel near the airport.

Damaged car at the scene of an explosion in Mogadishu, Somalia

A destroyed car near the site of the explosion. Photo: AFP

He said it was one of the worst scenes of destruction he had witnessed in Mogadishu.

Somali militant Islamist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The al-Qaeda linked group said it was responding to assaults by an African Union force and the Somali government.

The Jazeera Palace Hotel

A blast ripped through the Jazeera Palace Hotel. Photo: AFP

The blasts came as US President Barack Obama was leaving Kenya for Ethiopia, at the end of a trip during which he had discussions about dealing with the threat from al-Shabab.

The US condemned the "abhorrent" attack which "purposefully and cruelly targeted innocent civilians," a National Security Council statement said.

International diplomats often stay at Jazeera Palace Hotel, which has been targeted in the past. It also accommodates several embassies including those of China, Qatar and Egypt.

A Chinese embassy worker was among the dead as well as three members of the hotel staff, the BBC's Mohamed Moalimu reports.

Al-Shabab is battling Somalia's government for control of the country. While security in Somalia has improved, the group still attacks Mogadishu regularly.

On Saturday, a member of the Somali parliament and an official from the prime minister's office were killed in separate attacks in the capital claimed by al-Shabab.

In recent days the group lost two of its remaining strongholds - the south-western town of Bardere and the south-eastern town of Dinsor. Both had been under al-Shabab control since 2008.

The militants have also targeted neighbouring countries, killing almost 150 people in an assault on Garissa University College in Kenya in April.