Shabab militants attacked a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, where lawmakers and government officials were holding Friday prayers, killing at least 10 and severely wounding many others.
Twin explosions rocked the Central Hotel, with a suicide bomber ramming a vehicle loaded with explosives into the outside gate and a second suicide bomber attacking inside the compound, according to news reports.
Gunmen then stormed the building in a signature attack of the Shabab, the Al Qaeda-linked group that claimed responsibility for the attack and is fighting to topple the U.N.-backed Somali government.
The hotel is near the Villa Somalia government compound, and among the dead were several government officials and lawmakers, the reports said. Many other government officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Omar Arte, were wounded.
"The building was badly hit, the explosion was very big. There were very many wounded people too, many of them seriously,” police officer Abulrahman Ali told the Agence France-Press news service. Witness Ali Hussein said he saw 10 dead, according to AFP.
After decades of civil war, Somalia has stabilized to some extent, and the Shabab has recently suffered a series of crucial setbacks after losing several leaders in U.S. airstrikes. It has lost control of key towns and cities but it remains capable of carrying out devastating terrorist attacks in Mogadishu and other Somali communities.
The terrorist group still targets government buildings, restaurants, cafes and hotels where officials and journalists meet. It is also believed responsible for assassinations of government officials and journalists.
Somali President Hassan Sheik Mohamud condemned the latest attack but said it would not stop Somalia from restoring peace.
"We shall continue the anti-terrorism war. This attack makes clear that terrorists don't have any respect for the peaceful religion of Islam by killing innocent Muslims," he said in a statement.
Abdi Aynte, minister of planning and international cooperation, wrote on Twitter that the militants would not break the country’s spirit.
“Terrorist groups can kill and injure us, but they can never break the spirit of the Somali people. We shall overcome,” he said.