NEW: At least 15 killed in explosion in Mogadishu, Somalia, state media says
Al-Shabaab, which wants to turn Somalia into an Islamist state, claimed responsibility
A truck bomb exploded Tuesday outside the Somali presidential palace and the popular Somali Youth League Hotel in Mogadishu, police said.
Twelve people died in the blast, Dr. Mohamed Aden at Medina Hospital said. Police said at least 15 people were hurt and the death toll is expected to rise, with many of the wounded in critical condition.
The state-run Somali National News Agency, citing medical officials, put the death toll at 15 and reported 20 people were wounded.
Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack via its Radio Andalus station.
The explosion caused extensive damage to parts of the hotel and the second checkpoint of the entrance to the presidential palace, police Capt. Abdirisak Mohamed said.
The bomber rammed his truck into the gates of the hotel, targeting lawmakers and ministers holding a meeting there, according to Al-Shabaab military operations spokesman Sheikh Abdulaziz Abu Musab via Radio Andalus.
Two local journalists for the Mogadishu-based Goobjoog News were also wounded in the attack.
Other bombings by Al-Shabaab
The attack follows a similar pattern of bombings in the country claimed by Al-Shabaab, which wants to turn Somalia into an Islamist state.
On August 21, a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the main gate of a government building, and a second car bomber struck minutes later as people gathered to help the wounded, authorities said. At least 23 people were killed, including students from a nearby school who had come to help the wounded.
In late July, six people died after double suicide car bombs exploded in Mogadishu. A few days earlier, suicide bombers detonated two vehicles with explosives near the capital’s Aden Adde International Airport, killing at least 12.
In June, the group also claimed separate attacks on two hotels popular with Somali politicians that left more than two dozen people dead.
Journalist Omar Nor reported from Mogadishu, and CNN’s Joel Williams wrote in Atlanta. CNN’s Ralph Ellis contributed to this report.