Somali minister among 15 killed in extremist attack on hotel

A Somali security man stands looks at the wreckage of a pickup truck near Nasa-Hablod hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, Sunday, June 26, 2016. Islamic extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the latest in a series of hotel attacks in Mogadishu, one that began with a powerful explosion at the entry gate. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A Somali Cabinet minister is among the 15 killed in an Islamic extremist attack on a hotel in Somalia’s capital, police say.

Four attackers also died in the assault which was claimed by al-Shabab, Somalia’s militant rebels who are allied to al-Qaida.

State Minister for the Prime Minister’s Office, Buri Hamza, was among those killed, said Capt. Mohamed Hussein, a senior Somali police officer. Hamza died when his hotel room collapsed Saturday because of the powerful car bomb which extremists used to blast their way into the Nasa-Hablod Hotel.

At least 34 people were injured, according to police and hospital sources.

It is the second attack on a hotel since the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in early June. Both attacks have been claimed by al-Shabab.

The attacks have raised concerns about the security of hotels in the seaside capital which has seen numerous attacks by al-Shabab in recent years.

“The trend and lethality of such attacks suggest how vulnerable the security of hotels and the city in general are now,” said Mohamed Sheikh Abdi, a Somali political analyst.

“By carrying out such attacks, al-Shabab aims to portray itself as the stronger and dominant force when it comes to the security of the city,” he said. “Many residents now shun going to hotels that provide some of the few sources of entertainment available in Mogadishu.”

Mogadishu resident Ahmed Ali said that he has stopped going to hotels because they are “death traps because they are favorite targets for al-Shabab … Having fun at hotels is good but my safety comes first.”

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