Police officials say over 100 people were also wounded when suicide attackers set off car bombs at Sahafi Hotel near a police headquarter in capital Mogadishu. Militant group Al Shabab claims responsibility for the attack.

A Somali walks past the wreckages of vehicles destroyed during a suicide bomb attack near the Sahafi hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia November 10, 2018.
A Somali walks past the wreckages of vehicles destroyed during a suicide bomb attack near the Sahafi hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia November 10, 2018. (Reuters)

The death toll from a series of car bombings near a popular hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu has jumped to 41, police said on Saturday.

"The information we have received from the various hospitals indicates that the number of dead had reached 41 people, 106 others were also wounded," police official Ibrahim Mohamed said of Friday's attacks. The previous toll was about 39 dead.

Guards at the Sahafi hotel and the adjacent CID office opened fire after two suicide car bombs went off on Friday afternoon, A third explosion from a bomb placed in a three-wheeled "tuk-tuk" vehicle near the hotel also hit the busy street.

"The death toll may rise because some people are still missing," said Mohamed Hussein, a police officer in the city.

Militant group Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack on the hotel, which is near the headquarters of Somalia's Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

In total six militants died in the attack.

"Four militants who attempted to enter the hotel were shot dead by our police and the hotel guards," police captain Mohamed Ahmed told Reuters news agency.

"Two other militants were suicide car bombers who were blown up by their car bombs. The third car was remotely detonated."

Abdifatah Abdirashid, who took over the Sahafi from his father after he was killed in a militant attack in 2015, was among those who died in Friday’s attack, said Mohamed Abdiqani, a witness at the hotel.

"The militants who entered the hotel compound faced heavy gunfire from the hotel guards. Abdifatah Abdirashid, the hotel owner, and three of his bodyguards died," Abdiqani said.

Al Shabab says it targeted hotel

Abdiasisi Abu Musab, Al Shabab’s spokesman for military operations, said the group had singled out the Sahafi for attack because of its association with the government the group wants to overthrow.

"We targeted it because it acts as government base. Government officials and security forces are always in the hotel," he told Reuters.

"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."

Frequent bombings 

Mogadishu faces frequent bombings at the hands of Al Shabab, an al Qaeda affiliate which was forced out of the capital by African Union troops in 2011.

But they still control parts of the countryside and attack government, military and civilian targets, seemingly at will, in Mogadishu and regional towns.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies