Suicide bomber attacks hotel in Somalia’s capital; 8 reported dead, officials say

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Suicide bomber attacks Somali hotel, killing 8

MOGADISHU, Somalia — A suicide bomber and a gunman stormed a hotel in Somalia’s capital on Tuesday, and an early report from a government journalist said that at least eight people had been killed, including members of parliament.

A spokesman for the African Union, Maj. Barigye Bahoku, confirmed the suicide attack and said security forces were searching for a gunman.

Bashir Khalif, a journalist for the government-run Radio Mogadishu, said that he had seen eight dead bodies including several members of parliament.

The attack comes amid two days of fighting that have killed at least 40 civilians and wounded more than 130 in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, said Ali Muse, the head of Mogadishu’s ambulance service.

The fighting began Monday, soon after the spokesman for Somalia’s most dangerous militant group declared a “massive war” on what he labeled “invaders,” an apparent reference to the 6,000 troops from the African Union that protect and prop up the weak Somali government.

The group, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility last month for twin bombings in Uganda’s capital that killed 76 people. Al-Shabab said the attacks were in retaliation for Uganda’s deployment of troops with the African Union.

Al-Shabab has increased the use of suicide attacks in recent years, though they are still somewhat rare in Somalia. Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are believed to be helping train al-Shabab fighters.

Somalia hasn’t had a central government since 1991.

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