At least 10 people have been killed in a double car bombing in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, which is still reeling from an attack that left hundreds dead earlier this month.
A suicide car bomber first drove into a hotel where President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo was due to host a meeting on Saturday, followed by a car bombing near a former parliament building.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attacks, Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow, reporting from Nairobi in neighbouring Kenya, said.
He said at least three heavily armed al-Shabab fighters gained entry into the Nasa-Hablod Hotel on the heels of the car bombing there, but they were later killed by Somali security forces.
“We can confirm that the president was not at the hotel at the time of the attack,” he said.
Farmajo was scheduled to meet the presidents of Somalia’s five federal republics at the hotel later in the evening, he said.
“Rescue workers are saying the death toll could be much higher. They have recovered many bodies from the hotel,” our correspondent said, quoting witnesses who reported seeing al-Shabab fighters throw grenades inside the hotel.
Several buildings near the hotel also collapsed, trapping an unknown number of people beneath the rubble.
Mohamed Ahmed, a tuk-tuk driver who was driving by the Nasa-Hablod Hotel at the time of the attack, said he “saw a car exploding at the gate of the hotel. I don’t know where two of my customers have gone.
“I don’t know if they are dead or alive. But I saw four dead bodies”.