Four car bombs have been triggered by Islamic extremists outside a hotel in the Somali capital, killing at least 20 people and injuring 17, police said.
After three initial explosions in front of the hotel in Mogadishu, a fourth blast hit as medics attempted to rescue the injured.
The suicide bombs detonated near the perimeter wall of the Sahafi Hotel, which is across the street from the Somali Police Force’s Criminal Investigations Department, said Captain Mohamed Hussein.
Some of the victims were burned beyond recognition when one car bomb exploded next to a minibus, he said.
Somali security forces shot dead four gunmen who tried to storm through a hole blown into the hotel’s wall, he said.
“Although they failed to access the hotel, the blasts outside the hotel killed many people,” he added.
“The street was crowded with people and cars, bodies were everywhere,” said Hussein Nur, a shopkeeper who suffered light shrapnel injuries on his right hand.
“Gunfire killed several people too.”
Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebel group al-Shabab claimed the bombs, according to the group’s Adalus radio station.
Among the dead was the manager of the Sahafi Hotel, whose father was the owner of the hotel before he was killed in an al-Shabab attack on the establishment in 2015, said Mr Hussein.