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Bombers target hotel in Somalia's capital

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By The Associated Press
Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 8:24 p.m.

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Two car bombs exploded on Wednesday night outside a hotel in Somalia's capital that often is used by foreigners and government officials, killing at least six people and wounding eight, police said. The explosions occurred a day after al-Qaida-linked Islamist rebels warned Mogadishu to brace for an attack.

Gen. Abdihakim Saed, Somalia's police chief, told a local radio station two men who appeared to be suicide bombers died during the attack when they tried to force their way into the Jazeera Hotel as the cars exploded. Security forces shot and killed them.

Police Capt. Mohamed Hussein told The Associated Press that shortly after the first explosion occurred outside the heavily guarded hotel near Mogadishu's international airport, civilians and hotel guards rushed to the scene. At that point, he said, the second car bomb exploded, causing most of the casualties.

Saed said security forces “foiled” what could have been a much deadlier New Year's Day attack. “Our forces were on high alert for about two days after we received information about an imminent attack,” he said.

No one claimed responsibility for the blasts immediately. The al-Qaida-linked Islamic rebels of al-Shabab frequently stage lethal attacks in Somalia near the seat of government and at sites popular with foreigners.

In a radio message on Tuesday, a senior al-Shabab commander warned civilians to stay away from government buildings and sites controlled or owned by foreigners.

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