Bombs target Somali hotel and police in Mogadishu

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

Three vehicle bomb explosions and gunfire rocked the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Friday, killing at least 23 people in addition to four gunmen, witnesses and health officials said. The hotel is near the headquarters of the Somali Police Force's Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

Guards at the Sahafi hotel and the adjacent CID office opened fire after two suicide auto bombs went off on Friday afternoon, A third explosion from a bomb placed in a three-wheeled "tuk-tuk" vehicle near the hotel also hit the busy street.

Police official Ibrahim Mohamed told AFP that "more than 10 people died, majority civilians and some security guards".

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Mogadishu faces frequent bombings at the hands of Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate which has been fighting to overthrow the internationally backed Somali government for over a decade.

The militant group al-Shabab, which has waged an insurgency for more than 10 years, said it carried out the attack. "Abdifatah Abdirashid, the hotel owner, and three of his bodyguards died", Mr Abdiqani said.

Mohammed Hussein, another police officer, had earlier told Reuters that the target of the attack was Hotel Sahafi, which is just opposite the CID office. "Government officials and security forces are always in the hotel".

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