A homicide bomber and gunmen wearing military uniforms attacked a hotel near Somalia's presidential palace in a multi-pronged assault that came less than 24 hours after the country's most dangerous militant group -- al-Shabab -- threatened war against invaders.
MOGADISHU, Somalia -- A homicide bomber and gunmen wearing military uniforms attacked a hotel near Somalia's presidential palace Monday, sparking a running gun battle with security forces. At least 32 people were killed, including six Somali parliamentarians.
A parliamentarian who was at the Muna Hotel said there were "dead bodies all over" and he labeled the scene a massacre.
The multi-pronged assault came less than 24 hours after the country's most dangerous militant group -- al-Shabab -- threatened a "massive" war against what it labeled as invaders, a reference to the 6,000 African Union troops in Mogadishu.
The attack on the Muna Hotel raised the two-day toll to at least 70 people, a high number even by Mogadishu's violent standards. Fighting that rocked Mogadishu on Monday killed 40 people, health officials said.
Somalia's deputy prime minister told The Associated Press that 19 civilians, six members of parliament, five security forces and two hotel workers were killed in the attack -- a total of 32.
Two attackers also were killed, said Abdirahman Haji Aden Ibi, the deputy prime minister. A government statement said 31 people were killed.
An 11-year-old shoe shine boy and a woman selling tea in front of the hotel were among the dead, African Union spokesman Maj. Barigye Bahoku said.
A parliamentarian who was at the hotel when the attack occurred said he had seen at least 20 bodies lying in the corridor of the hotel, including one dead member of parliament. The parliamentarian spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear for his safety.
He said the homicide bomber blew himself up near the reception and then gunmen stormed the hotel, setting off a gun battle that lasted about an hour.
Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage, a spokesman for the al-Shabab militia, said that members of the group's "special forces" had carried out the attack against those "aiding the infidels."
Militant veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are believed to be helping train members of al-Shabab, which has links to al-Qaida. Tuesday's assault is only the latest in a series of increasingly lethal attacks. Last month the group claimed responsibility for twin bombings during the World Cup final in Uganda's capital, blasts that killed 76 people.
Al-Shabab said the attack was in retaliation for Uganda's role in the African Union force in Mogadishu.