NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – A powerful explosion killed at least four people in the Somali capital on Thursday, police said. An Islamist extremist group said a hotel in Mogadishu was targeted, but a police official said militants detonated a bomb while trying to assassinate a judge.
Militants detonated a car bomb near Judge Abshir Omar's residence, and security forces stationed outside the judge's house confronted gunmen who tried to force entry, police officer Mohamed Hussein said.
Eight others were wounded in the attack, Hussein told The Associated Press.
Two witnesses said the blast ripped off part of the roof of Omar's house. Witnesses, shopkeeper Ahmed Mohamed and area resident Fatima Nur reported having heard shots following the blast and said the smoke was rising from the scene of the attack.
Al-Shabab, considered the most dangerous Islamic extremist group in Africa, took responsibility for the attack. The Al Qaeda-linked group said the Maka Almukarramah hotel, not the nearby judge's house, was the intended target.
Another witness, Sabir Abdi, said the hotel suffered significant damage and several people were injured.
Dozens of cars were ablaze along the Maka Almukarramah Road, which is in a bustling part of Mogadishu, where restaurants and hotels are located.
Al-Shabab has attacked the hotel Maka Almukarramah several times in the past, including a March 2015 bombing in which at least 18 people were killed.
The militant group, which opposes the Somali federal government and wants to impose sharia law, has carried out many deadly attacks inside Somalia and elsewhere in the region, including neighboring Kenya.
Al-Shabab said he was responsible for an attack on a hotel and commercial complex in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, which killed 21 people in January.
Rodney Muhumuza contributed from Kampala, Uganda.