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Somali president defiant after Shabaab bomb diplomats’ hotel

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The damaged Jazeera Palace hotel following a suicide attack in Mogadishu on July 26, 2015/AFP

The damaged Jazeera Palace hotel following a suicide attack in Mogadishu on July 26, 2015/AFP

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Jul 27 – Somalia’s president on Monday gave a defiant warning to Shabaab insurgents a day after they killed at least 13 people in a bomb attack on a hotel that houses several diplomatic missions.

The suicide vehicle attack, the latest in a string of bomb blasts and killings in the war-torn Horn of Africa nation, came as US President Barack Obama left neighbouring Kenya and headed to Ethiopia, both key nations contributing troops to the African Union force battling the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabaab.

The White House strongly condemned Sunday’s “abhorrent” attack.

“The devastation was huge, and so far 13 people, all of them innocent civilians, have been confirmed dead,” Somali government security officer Ahmed Ali said.

“Some of the wounded died last night, while other bodies were recovered under the wreckage of nearby buildings.”

Initial reports had put the death toll at six. READ: Death toll rises to 13 from Somali hotel suicide bomb attack.

The Jazeera Palace hotel is home to the diplomatic missions of China, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, and is popular among Somali government officials and foreign visitors.

Beijing said Monday one of its embassy staff was killed and three others slightly wounded.

AU troops helped rescue survivors, including Kenya’s ambassador to Somalia, spokesman Paddy Ankunda said.

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The hotel has also been the target of Shabaab attacks in the past, including in 2012 when suicide bombers stormed the hotel while President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was inside.

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