Somalia's Al-Shabab Claims Hotel Bombings

Somalia's al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for two bomb blasts that took place within an hour of each other outside a hotel in Mogadishu. The hotel is one that is regularly frequented by foreigners.

"This is the beginning of 2014," al-Shabab spokesperson Ali Mohamud Rage said a day after the two car bombs exploded outside a hotel in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu which left at least 11 people dead and wounded 18.

Police and witnesses said the two blasts occurred within an hour of each other outside the Jazeera Hotel, which is situated near a United Nations compound and Mogadishu's international airport.

Police Captain Mohamed Hussein told The Associated Press news agency that after the first explosion occurred outside the hotel, hotel guards and civilians rushed to the scene to render assistance.

It was then, he added, that the #link:17336930:second car bomb exploded, causing most of the casualties.

Claiming Wednesday's attack was the start of al-Shabab's new year campaign, Ali Mohamud Rage said that "the fate of foreigners and local mercenaries will remain the same until they leave the country... they will have no safe haven in Somalia."

The militant group "takes full responsibility for last night's attack that targeted a meeting of senior apostate intelligence officials in Mogadishu," al-Shabab's spokesperson said of the twin bombing.

Al-Shabab's last major attack within Mogadishu came in mid-November when a suicide car bomber attacked a police compound before militants entered and shot rounds of gunfire, killing 16.

The Jazeera Hotel is popular with foreigners and government officials. It has been the target of previous terrorist attacks, and in September 2012 was the scene of an assassination attempt on Somalia's president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, two days after his inauguration.

jlw/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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