Death toll rises to 14 in Mogadishu bombings

Bombs kill at least 7 in Mogadishu

Sporadic gunfire could be heard in the vicinity.

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

The first explosion was a suicide vehicle bomb which detonated outside a Mogadishu hotel, where gunfire broke out inside the building.

Ali Nur, a police officer, told Reuters 17 people, mostly policemen, had died in the blasts.

"Security forces have entered a small portion of the hotel building ... the exchange of gunfire is hellish", he said.

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Speaking to the AP news agency by telephone, Captain Mohamed Hussein said that security forces were battling five extremists on the top floor of the hotel and that two of the attackers had been neutralized.

The group is believed to be behind a Mogadishu truck bomb attack two weeks ago that killed more than 350 people.

A taxi driver at the scene told AFP he saw four bodies being carried away, while another witness called Yusuf Moalim said a senior police official appeared to be among the victims, whose auto had been near the hotel entrance when the blast occurred.

The attack has reportedly been claimed by extremist group al Shabaab through a channel on Telegram.

A local reporter told VOA he saw nine dead people.

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The areas affected by the explosions are popular with Somalia's elite and are frequented by politicians, civil servants and security personnel.

On Oct. 14, more than 300 people were killed and another 300 injured in a truck bombing in the city.

A second explosion followed the larger bombing in that attack too, although in a different location. The hotel is close to the presidential palace.

The Al Qaeda-affiliated militant group is fighting to topple Somalia's internationally-backed government and has carried out scores of such attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere in the country.

A multinational African Union force with 22,000 troops in Somalia is expected to withdraw by the end of 2020.

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