Somalia's Shebab boasts of twin hotel bombing killing 11

Somalia's Shebab boasts of twin hotel bombing killing 11
A Somali soldier stands in front of the Jazeera Hotel on January 2, 2014 in Mogadishu after a bomb exploded the day before. A car bomb struck a hotel near a UN compound in Mogadishu on January 1, 2014 and a second blast went off as emergency services rushed in, killing several, police and witnesses said.

MOGADISHU - Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab said Thursday it carried out a twin bombing of a hotel in Mogadishu that killed 11, boasting it was the start of its campaign for the new year.

"This is the beginning of 2014," Shebab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage said in a New Year message, a day after the hotel attacks.

"The fate of foreigners and local mercenaries will remain the same until they leave the country... they will have no safe haven in Somalia."

The first car bomb exploded outside the Jazeera hotel, near the international airport. It is one of the seaside capital's most upmarket and its clientele includes Somali politicians and visiting foreign officials.

The second car bomb ripped through the blast scene as ambulances rushed in and Somali soldiers were helping the wounded.

The Shebab "takes full responsibility for last night's attack that targeted a meeting of senior apostate intelligence officials in Mogadishu," Rage added.

"The apostates are the eyes and ears of the invaders, and these attacks serve as a well-deserved punishment for their role in guiding and assisting the invading forces in their crusade against Islam and the Muslims of Somalia."

The Shebab once controlled most of southern and central Somalia but withdrew from fixed positions in Mogadishu two years ago.

African Union troops -- including large contingents from Uganda, Kenya and Burundi -- have since recaptured a series of insurgent bastions and tried to prop up Somalia's fledgling government forces.

But a string of devastating Shebab attacks against foreign and government targets have shattered hopes of a rebirth for the war-ravaged capital and demonstrated that the Islamist outfit's disruptive power is undiminished.

The group, which has become a magnet for foreign jihadists, has carried out an average of one "complex attack" every six or eight weeks over the past year.

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