Massive blast from truck bomb kills 20 people in Somalia's capital


Police say the death toll has risen to 20 after a powerful truck bomb exploded in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.

The explosion occurred in front of the Safari Hotel, a popular establishment but that is usually not frequented by government officials. "We are still busy transporting casualties", said Abdullahi Nur, a police officer who was in the area, adding that there were bodies under the rubble.

No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack, though al Shabab, an offshoot of al Qaida, has carried out other vehicle bombings in the country in recent months.

The explosion appeared to target a hotel on a busy road in Hodan district. Authorities believe the truck was going to target a hotel in the area.

Mohamed Hussein says more than 15 people are injured.

Later on Saturday, a second blast took place in the city's Madina district.

The blast occurred two days after the head of the U.S. Africa Command was in Mogadishu to meet with Somalia's president, and two days after the country's defense minister and army chief resigned for undisclosed reasons. After the explosion, the police captain told Reuters that it was a truck bomb and that there are casualties but that they did not know the exact amount since the scene was still burning. The militants emerged out of a bitter insurgency fighting Ethiopia, whose troops entered Somalia in a US-backed invasion in 2006 to topple the Islamic Courts Union that was then controlling Mogadishu.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.