Police: 2 car bombs explode in Somali capital

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Updated: January 1, 2014, 11:24 AM

 

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Two car bombs exploded on Wednesday night outside a hotel in Somalia’s capital that often is used by foreigners and government officials, wounding at least two people, police said.

Police officer Ahmed Ali, who gave the preliminary casualty figures, said it wasn’t immediately known who was responsible for the blasts outside the Jazeera Hotel near Mogadishu’s international airport. After the bombs went off, hotel guards and soldiers manning nearby checkpoints shot in the air, said witness Yasiin Haji .

The al-Qaida-linked Islamic rebels of al-Shabab frequently stage lethal attacks in Somalia near the seat of government and at sites popular with foreigners. In a radio message Tuesday, a senior al-Shabab commander warned civilians to stay away from government buildings as well as sites controlled or owned by foreigners. The commander, Ali Mohammed Hussein, said attacks were imminent in Mogadishu.

Al-Shabab once controlled Mogadishu, but it was ousted from the capital in August 2011.

In September, the militants claimed responsibility for an attack on the Westgate Mall in neighboring Kenya that killed 67 people.

The Jazeera Hotel has been the target of previous terrorist attacks.