Somali Authorities Arrest 12 People After Bomb Blasts in Capital

Somalia’s authorities arrested 12 people in connection with twin bomb blasts in the capital, Mogadishu, on Friday that killed at least 25 people, the government said.

“Security forces apprehended 12 people, including two of the hotel owners, in connection with Friday’s blasts,” Security Minister Abdirisaq Omar Mohamed told state-run radio Saturday. At least 40 people were injured in the explosions, Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali’s office said in an e-mailed statement.

The “terrorist attack” on the Central Hotel in Mogadishu, in which a car laden with explosives detonated before a suicide bomber exploded inside the compound, took place while guests were attending Friday prayers at the hotel’s mosque, according to the statement. Two lawmakers and the deputy mayor of Mogadishu were among the dead, Mohamed said.

Al-Shabaab, the Somalia-based Islamist militant group linked to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the bombings, according to a statement published on the website of pro-al-Shabaab Radio Andalus.

Al-Shabaab has waged an insurgency in the Horn of Africa nation since 2006 in a bid to impose Shariah, or Islamic law. African peacekeepers have joined government forces to stabilize the country, sparking revenge attacks by al-Shabaab outside Somalia’s borders, including in neighboring Kenya where its fighters raided the Westgate mall in Nairobi in 2013, leaving at least 67 people dead.

While the group has lost ground since being driven out of Mogadishu in 2011, it continues to stage deadly gun and bomb attacks in Somalia.

Friday’s attack came ahead of a visit Saturday by Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh to Mogadishu for talks with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud. On Jan. 22, al-Shabaab attacked the SYL Hotel in Mogadishu where Turkish delegates were staying ahead of a visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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