Tuesday’s suicide bombing near the Somali president’s palace in Mogadishu caused a huge blast and destroyed two hotels nearby.
“The number of the people who died in the blast reached 15 and 45 others were wounded, most of them lightly,” said Mogadishu police Chief Bishar Abshir Gedi.
Medical officers, however, are quoting a higher casualty figure, with head of Mogadishu Ambulances Abdirahman saying 22 bodies were recovered from the site of the blast.
Reuter’s news agency said al-Shabab fighters claimed responsibility for the attack.
Witnesses and social media users reported hearing a loud explosion in Mogadishu, followed by gunfire.
“There was a blast close to the SYL Hotel area, near the main checkpoint of the presidential palace,” said Ibrahim Mohamed, a security officer.
Information Minister Mohamed Abdi Hayir said on Tuesday that security officials were gathered inside the SYL at the time of blast, and that one minister and some state radio journalists were wounded.
The hotel is frequented by government officials and police said it believed the facility was the likely target.
Al-Shabab fighters have claimed responsibility for several recent explosions in Mogadishu, including a car bomb and gun attack last week at a popular beach restaurant that killed 10 people.