At least 25 people were killed after a massive explosion rocked Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu on Thursday, a police officer told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
Police were among the victims, officer Ali Hassan Kulmiye said, adding that a truck bomb had gone off in the evening near an upmarket hotel frequented by government officials.
A second blast was heard about an hour after the first, and police said the death toll could rise.
SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant activity, said the Islamist group Shabab had claimed responsibility.
“We are still trying to establish more about this large-scale attack,” Somali police officer Ahmed Bashane said. “But I think the militants were targeting popular hotels in the area.
“The situation is very chaotic,” he added. “We suspect there are other cars laden with explosive devices hiding in the area.”
Hours after the attack, gunfire could still be heard, and Bashane said some militants were still in the area.
The explosion in Somalia’s capital caused destruction to businesses around the busy Maka al Mukarama road, with some of them on fire. Sporadic gunfire could be heard in the area following the blast.
The explosion was so large that it could be felt about five miles away, according to a Deutsche Presse-Agentur reporter in Mogadishu.
Vehicles were destroyed and debris struck power lines, setting off electrical explosions and shattering windows of nearby buildings, the reporter said.