A car bomb exploded Tuesday near Somalia’s presidential palace, killing more than 20 people.
The car hit a wall of the SYL hotel, a popular meeting spot for Somali government officials.
“A speeding car drove towards us. We fired warning shots into the air. It did not stop and then we fired at the car before the attacker detonated his explosive-laden car,” a presidential security guard told VOA Somali on condition of anonymity.
The head of a local ambulance service, Dr. Abdulkadir Aden, says his service transported 22 dead bodies and 30 injured people after the blast. “Six of the dead were women,” he said.
Among those injured in the blast were the minister of transportation, the state minister for defense, several lawmakers and two local radio journalists.
Information minister, Mohamed Abdi Hayir Maraye, tells VOA Somali that authorities had learned that militants were planning to deploy three car bombs around the city this week.
He said two of them were seized by government forces following tips from Mogadishu residents, but this one could not be prevented. “The security forces were chasing it before it exploded into the wall of the hotel,” he said.
The minister said he sustained a minor wound caused by shattered glass from a hotel window.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but suspicion centered on militant group al-Shabab, which is attempting to overthrow the government and set up a strict Islamic state in Somalia.
The group often targets hotels where government officials live or meet. A previous attack on the SYL hotel in February killed at least nine people.