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Death Toll in Mogadishu Blasts Up to 25

A Somali soldier walks near destroyed buildings, Feb. 27, 2016 after a suicide car bomb on Friday night in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Authorities in Somalia say the death toll from two explosions near a Mogadishu hotel late Friday has risen to 25 people.

Duniya Ali Mohamed of Media Hospital told VOA that eight of 34 people admitted to the hospital died of serious wounds sustained in the blasts.

Three more bodies were pulled out from houses damaged by the massive car bombs near the SYL hotel.

Nearly 60 others were wounded in the attack, in which gunmen also forced their way onto the hotel grounds and traded fire with security guards.

The hotel is located across the street from Somalia's presidential palace, Villa Somalia, and is frequented by government officials.

Al-Shabab claims responsibility

Islamist militant group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attacks. Security sources say that the militants used more than 200 kilograms of explosives in the first bomb, which struck a checkpoint.

Dahir Amin Jeesow, a Somali lawmaker who was in the hotel, described the explosion as "the most powerful, the loudest he has ever witnessed in Mogadishu used by Al-Shabab."

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has condemned the bombings.

Al-Shabab, which has links to Al-Qaida, carries out frequent attacks in Somalia, often targeting government officials and African Union troops.

The Islamist militant group controlled most of southern Somalia as recently as 2010 but was pushed into the countryside by AU and Somali government forces.