Double auto bombing strikes Mogadishu

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Extremists attacked a Mogadishu hotel Saturday with a auto bomb, a suicide vest, grenades and firearms, killing at least 23 people, including a baby, wounding more than 30 and trapping dozens of people on the building's upper floors.

Witnesses said gunmen stormed Nasa-Hablod hotel after detonating a vehicle filled with explosives at the entrance.

According to an Al Jazeera tally, since the start of this year, more than 20 explosions have targeted Mogadishu, killing at least 500 people and injuring more than 630.

The second auto bomb exploded near the former parliament building, and the extent of damage caused by the second explosion is not yet clear. The dead also included a former member of parliament, he said.

Witnesses in some previous attacks have said al Shabab fighters disguised themselves by wearing military uniforms.

A huge cloud of smoke rose over the hotel and there were more than a dozen wrecked cars outside.

The United States under President Trump has made a renewed push to defeat the Shabab, Somali-based militants who have terrorized the country and East Africa for years, killing civilians across borders, worsening starvation and destabilizing a broad stretch of the region.

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Security officials said Saturday's bomber had pretended his truck had broken down outside the gate.

He said the hotel belonged to Somalia's internal security minister, Mohamed Abukar Islow.

The Nasa Hablod 2 is a popular hotel located in the north of the city whose sister hotel, the Nasa Hablod, was hit by Shabaab militants in June 2016, in an attack that killed 11 people.

The Shabaab has made attacks on hotels - commonly beginning with a suicide auto bombing followed by an invasion by gunmen - a regular strategy in its decade old battle to overthrow successive internationally-backed governments in Mogadishu.

Al Jazeera's Mohammed Adow, reporting from Nairobi, Kenya, said at least three heavily armed Al-Shabab gunmen have gained entry to the Nasa-Hablod hotel and that fighting was still going on.

Three of the five attackers were killed, Capt Hussein said.

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