MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA): Casualties have been feared in a bomb explosion and heavy gunfire targeting a busy and popular hotel near the presidential palace in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.
The Villa Rose Hotel, located near Somalia’s heavily fortified presidential palace, is used by Somali officials.
Casualties are yet unknown but local media reported that Somalia’s Security Minister Mohamed Ahmed Dodishe is among the people injured in the attack.
A short statement issued by the Somali police confirmed the attack.
The police said it rescued several people, including civilians and officials.
Adam Aw Hirsi, Somalia’s state minister for the environment, said that he was safe after a “terrorist explosion targeted at my residence.”
The al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Somalia’s parliament said it had postponed a scheduled session for both of its houses.
“All members of parliament of both councils are being informed that today’s scheduled meeting has been postponed,” it said in a statement on its Facebook page.
The attack came a day after the Somali government said that more than 100 al-Shabaab terrorists, including 12 of their commanders, were killed in the Middle Shabelle region in a military operation supported by local militias and international security partners.
Somalia has been plagued by insecurity for years, with al-Shabaab being one of the main threats.
Since at least 2007, al-Shabaab has waged a deadly campaign against the Somali government and international forces, claiming thousands of lives.
The UN has also warned of growing instability in the country, with its periodic reports on Somalia this year detailing attacks by al-Shabaab and pro-Daesh/ISIS groups.
There were at least 1,518 civilian casualties – 651 killed and 867 injured – in terrorist attacks in Somalia in 2018, followed by 1,459 – 591 killed and 868 injured – in 2019, according to UN estimates.
Additional report by The Muslim News