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At least 11 killed, 40 injured in double car bomb attack in Somalia

By Omar Nor and Ray Sanchez, CNN
January 2, 2014 -- Updated 1418 GMT (2218 HKT)
Wreckage of cars is seen outside the Jazeera Hotel, in Mogadishu, Somalia, Thursday, January 2, 2014.
Wreckage of cars is seen outside the Jazeera Hotel, in Mogadishu, Somalia, Thursday, January 2, 2014.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Double car bombs explode near a Somali hotel
  • At least 11 people are killed and up to 40 wounded
  • A statement on a website linked to Al-Shabaab says the terror network is behind the bombing

Mogadishu, Somalia (CNN) -- The death toll of a twin car bombing at a hotel in Mogadishu rose to 11 Thursday, with many of the victims security force members, a police spokesman said. At least 40 other people were injured.

"The death toll has hit 11 people, including three attackers and five security personnel, while the rest were civilians," said Gen. Mohamed Yusuf Omar Madale, a Somali police spokesman.

At least four people were killed in the first attack Wednesday, Madale said. A half-hour later, another car bomb exploded just few meters from the scene of the first blast, killing at least seven people, mostly security officers.

Police official Yusuf Ali said Wednesday that the first suicide car bomb exploded outside the main gate of the Jazeera Palace Hotel, and the second blast came as first responders began gathering to evacuate the injured.

At the time of the Mogadishu blasts, there were several senior members of the Somali government inside the hotel. It is believed the injured guards were part of the government officials' security detail.

Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed condemned the attack Wednesday night.

"The terrorists started 2014 as they finished 2013 with indiscriminate violence & killings. Will only serve to unite Somalia against them," his official Twitter account said.

A statement posted to a website associated with the Al-Shabaab terrorist network Thursday morning reads: "The mujahideen forces carried out the attacks and they will intensify their attacks against the government of Somalia and the African Union troops in the country."

Last month, another bombing at a hotel in the capital left five people dead and at least 15 wounded, a government spokesman said.

A car bomb went off on November 8 outside Hotel Makkah Al-Mukarama in central Mogadishu, Abdikarim Hussein Guled, the African country's interior and national security minister, told local media.

Those killed included Abdulkadir Ali, the Somali government's former acting envoy to Britain better known as "Dhub," said Abdirahman Omar Osman, a presidential representative.

Other Somali violence has been traced to Al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked organization that the U.S. government calls a terrorist group and that was behind the deadly siege this fall of a Nairobi, Kenya, shopping mall.

A U.S. military drone strike in southern Somalia in late October killed two suspected Al-Shabaab members, U.S. officials said. And a recent joint raid by Kenyan and Somali forces killed at least 30 people believed to be part of that group.

In September 2012, Somalia's new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, escaped an apparent assassination attempt at the Jazeera Palace Hotel, just two days after being selected as the troubled country's new leader.

According to a presidential media officer and several journalists at the scene, early indications are that the attack was carried out by two suicide bombers who set off explosives at the gates of the hotel, where the president was having high-level meetings.

At least four Somali government soldiers and one African Union soldier were killed in that attack, according to journalists at the scene.

The Jazeera Palace Hotel is near Mogadishu airport and it is frequented by government officials and diplomats.

Journalist Omar Nor reported from Mogadishu, and CNN's Ray Sanchez wrote this story from New York. Journalist Mohamed Nor contributed to this report.

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