A man injured in bombing attacks is carried to Madina Hospital in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia, on Feb. 23, 2018. At least 18 people have been confirmed dead and 20 others injured in twin bombing attacks in Mogadishu on Friday. (Xinhua/Faisal Isse)
MOGADISHU, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- At least 18 people have been confirmed dead and 20 others injured in twin bombing attacks in Mogadishu on Friday.
Aamin Ambulance Director Abdukadir Abdirahman said 18 people died in the double bombings, one of which targeting the presidential palace.
"I can confirm to you that we have recorded 18 bodies. Another 20 were injured and we have transported them to various hospitals in the city," Abdirahman said.
Somali security forces managed to thwart an attack at the presidential palace, repulsing militants pushing to enter the compound. A vehicle loaded with explosives exploded near Villa Somalia as security forces pursued it.
Earlier, police told Xinhua security forces manning Villa Somalia repulsed militants who were trying to storm into the palace, killing three of them.
"They tried to storm into Villa Somalia but our forces fought them back. The forces were pursuing the vehicle as it headed towards the palace but exploded before reaching the target," police officer Ahmed Abdulle told Xinhua.
The first explosion went off at around 6 p.m. local time, when a vehicle loaded with explosives hit the newly opened Dorbin hotel, near the intelligence headquarters.
A second explosion went off shortly after near Villa Somalia.
Witnesses recounted of the turn of the events.
"We heard a huge explosion followed by a lot of gunfire near the parliament building. We were told Sayidka hotel was being attacked," Yasmin Mohamed said.
Militant group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack, which came barely a day after Security Minister Mohamed Islow warned of a minivan loaded with explosives in Mogadishu.
Security forces have in the past week cordoned off roads and launched major security operations in the city amid reports of an impending attack.