Blast rocks Somalia capital; police say 20 dead

A huge blast was heard in the center of Mogadisho.

A Somali police officer says a powerful explosion from a truck bomb has struck a busy road in the Somali capital and at least six people have been killed. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh) A Somali soldier helps a civilian who was wounded in a blast in the capital of Mogadishu, Somalia, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.

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The explosion appeared to target a hotel on a busy road in the Hodan district and at least 15 people were injured, Capt. Mohamed Hussein said. Security forces have sealed off the blast site for investigation, Mohamed said.

A BBC Somali reporter at the scene said the Safari Hotel had collapsed, with people thought to be trapped under the rubble.

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The first explosion in the city's K5 Junction area, which is lined with government offices, hotels, and restaurants, destroyed several buildings and set dozens of vehicles on fire. Rescue workers were at the scene. Al-Shabab recently intensified attacks on army bases in the south and central Somalia.

Al-Shabab, an armed group fighting to overthrow the internationally recognised government, has carried out frequent gun, grenade and bomb attacks in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia.

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According to witnesses, the vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) has gone off at busy intersection, Zoobe Area in downtown Mogadishu, sending volumes of smoke to the sky. Windows of nearby buildings were shattered. Overturned cars burned in the street. "It's a disaster", he said sadly.

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