A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden truck near the Somali president’s residence in Mogadishu Tuesday, killing five people and partially destroying nearby hotels, police said.
Huge clouds of smoke were seen over the capital and gunfire was heard.
The bomb exploded during a morning traffic jam, Capt. Mohamed Hussein, a senior police officer, told The Associated Press.
The blast damaged nearby hotels often frequented by government officials and business executives, he said.
Some Cabinet ministers at the SYL hotel were among the injured, Hussein said.
It came only three days after a car bomb and gun attack at a popular beach restaurant in the city killed 10 people. Both that and Tuesday's attack were claimed by regional al Qaeda-linked terror network, al Shabaab, which aims to topple the Western-backed government.
Mogadishu's Madina hospital received 28 injured victims, said Dr. Mohamed Yusuf, the hospital's director.
The massive blast has left a trail of destruction across the hilltop presidential complex and to nearby hotels. The bombing tore into blast walls protecting hotels and blew off the roofs of nearby houses.
“Security forces tried to stop the bomber who used back roads before he sped through checkpoints near the presidential palace and detonated the bomb,” said Col. Ali Nur, a police officer. “He reached near the gate of the state house with flat tires.”