MOGADISHU (AFP) - Twin suicide bombings at a Mogadishu hotel popular with government ministers and officials that killed 25 people were carried out by Dutch-Somali nationals, Somali intelligence sources said Saturday.
Somali intelligence believe both bombers – a man and a woman – were Dutch-Somali citizens who infiltrated the Central Hotel close to the presidential palace to carry out the attack on Friday.
Sources within the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency said the man, identified as Ismail Muse, detonated a bomb in a car parked at the hotel while the woman, Lula Ahmed Dahir, set off her explosive vest inside the hotel’s prayer room.
The woman “worked part-time in the hotel for up to four months,” according to an intelligence report seen by AFP.
“Her relationship to the male attacker... is not yet known but is thought to be very close, if not husband,” said the report.
The attack left 25 people dead including two MPs, the deputy mayor of Mogadishu, the prime minister’s private secretary and the deputy prime minister’s chief of staff.
Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Arte as well as the ministers of transport and of port and marine resources were among dozens injured in the blasts.
Heavy gunfire followed the two explosions as nervous security forces searched the hotel compound.
“The building was badly hit, the explosion was very big,” said police officer Abulrahman Ali.
“There were very many wounded people too, many of them seriously.”
Thick clouds of black smoke were seen pouring from the hotel as the injured were rushed to hospital.
“There were people covered in blood, I counted 10 dead bodies but that was only in one area,” said Ali Hussein, who was close to the hotel at the time.
Shebab militants claimed responsibility for the attack.
“Our fighters attacked the Central Hotel,” Shebab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab told AFP.
“The aim is to kill the apostate officials.”
The United States said the attack highlighted the group’s lust for “death and destruction.”
Shebab rebels have staged a string of assaults in their fight to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government. They have targeted hotels, the international airport, Villa Somalia, a UN compound and restaurants.
The last most deadly attack targeting government was in December 2009 when Shebab gunmen went room-to-toom in the Shame Hotel killing 25 people, including three ministers.