MOGADISHU, July 17 (Xinhua) -- At least two people were killed and more than 15 others wounded in a suicide car bombing attack on a popular hotel in the south-central Somali town of Jowhar Sunday, a government official confirmed.
Daud Haji Irro, a spokesman for Hirshabelle State, said the death toll could rise after attackers rammed a car laden with explosives at Nuur Doob Hotel which is frequented by regional government officials.
"So far, we have established that two people were killed and more than 15 others wounded," Haji said.
The regional government official said two ministers and a lawmaker from the Hirshabelle State are those wounded in the attack.
Images from the scene showed the large-scale destruction caused by the explosion which also affected nearby buildings.
Hani Omar, a witness, said the explosion was huge, saying the number of casualties could be more than what the regional government stated.
"We heard a massive blast at the hotel in Jowhar, there is also huge destruction in the area. I know there are several casualties," Omar told Xinhua on the phone.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the latest attack, saying it has targeted a hotel housing Hirshabelle regional officials.
The attacks continue across Somalia despite the security forces backed by allied forces having stepped up operations against the militants in the country.
The militants have been targeting military bases, hotels, and other public places in Somalia. ■