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Blast Kills 13 in Popular Mogadishu Hotel


Severe damage from a car bomb explosion is visible at the Hotel Jazeera in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 26, 2015. (Courtesy photo by Mohamed Moalimuu)

At least 13 people were killed and 25 were wounded in Somalia's capital Sunday when a car bomb exploded outside a hotel that hosts the Chinese and Egyptian embassies.

Somali militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the blast that targeted the Hotel Jazeera near Mogadishu International Airport. The hotel is often used by members of parliament and journalists in addition to foreign diplomats.

Local media reported that most of those killed were civilians, including a local TV journalist. A Chinese embassy staff member was reported among the injured. Officials have released no details about the victims.

A Somali intelligence agent, speaking on condition of anonymity, told VOA that a Toyota Dyna truck filled with explosives went off outside the hotel Sunday afternoon.

One side of the hotel collapsed, and witnesses said their might be people trapped under the rubble.

A pro-Shabab website said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber and was done in retaliation for the recent killings of militant fighters in Somalia's Bay and Bakool regions by Ethiopian troops.

Ethiopia is one of several East African nations who have troops in Somalia fighting al-Shabab. The group has lost most of the territory it once controlled but carries out periodic high-profile attacks.

In April, al-Shabab militants killed 148 people at Garissa University College in eastern Kenya.

Sunday's attack occurred as President Barack Obama wrapped up a visit to Kenya and traveled to Ethiopia. A U.S. National Security Council statement strongly condemned what it called the "abhorrent attack" in Mogadishu. It said the United States remains steadfast in its commitment to work with Somalia, regional partners such as Kenya and Ethiopia, and the broader international community to bring an end to acts of terrorism and combat violent extremism in Somalia.