Double vehicle bombing strikes Mogadishu

At least six people were killed and eight others injured in a auto bombing outside the popular Nasahablod 2 Hotel in Mogadishu on Saturday.

Speaking to The Associated Press by telephone from the scene, Mohamed Hussein, an army captain, said more than 20 people, including government officials, were thought to be trapped as security forces battled extremists holed up on the top floor of the hotel.

Police said earlier a suicide vehicle bomb had been rammed into a hotel and a former government building had been attacked.

He said he saw at least three armed men in military uniforms running toward the hotel after the suicide bombing at its gate. A few minutes later a auto bomb exploded near the former parliament house nearby.

Other victims included a senior Somali police colonel, a former lawmaker and a former government minister.

Following the blasts yesterday, witnesses reported hearing gunfire at the Nasa Hablod Hotel 2 which was sealed off by security forces with gunmen believed to be inside.

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A huge cloud of smoke rose over the hotel and there were more than a dozen wrecked cars outside.

Witnesses in some previous attacks have said al-Shabab fighters disguised themselves by wearing military uniforms.

Farmajo was scheduled to meet the presidents of the Somalia's five federal republics at the hotel later in the evening, he said.

Bombs in Mogadishu two weeks ago killed at least 358 people, the worst such attacks in the country's history, igniting nationwide outrage.

Nasa-hablood hotel is located near the presidential palace in Mogadishu.

Al-Shabab, Africa's deadliest Islamic extremist group, quickly claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack and said its fighters were inside the hotel. At least 358 people were killed and about 400 injured, with numerous victims burnt beyond recognition.