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Chinese national confirmed dead in Somali hotel blast

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-07-27 07:44

Chinese national confirmed dead in Somali hotel blast

Somali government soldiers and journalists stand near a car destroyed in front of the Jazeera hotel after an attack in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, July 26, 2015. Fifteen people were killed on Sunday when Somalia's al Shabaab Islamist militant group drove a car packed with explosives at the gate of a hotel, police and the rebel group said. A Reuters witness said blood and pieces of flesh were spattered around the site of the blast which targeted the Jazeera hotel. The wreckage of four cars were nearby. [Photo/Agencies]

An armed police officer of the Chinese embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia has been confirmed killed in Sunday's suicide car bombing attack at Jazera Hotel.

The embassy said Monday that three other officers were wounded in the incident, which killed at least 15 and injured over 40 at the latest count and for which militant group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility.

China was greatly shocked by the attack and strongly condemns it, said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang, while offering sincere condolences over the loss of lives.

China, he added, has lodged representations with the Somali side both in Mogadishu and in Beijing, and has moved the embassy staff to a safe area.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry will maintain close communication with relevant departments and properly handle the aftermath, he said, adding that it will also closely follow the local situation, beef up security measures, and protect the safety and interests of Chinese organizations and people in the African country.

According to the police, in the Sunday attack a suicide bomber rammed his car loaded with explosives into the gate of the heavily guarded hotel, which also houses the embassies of Egypt, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates and is frequented by diplomats and foreign visitors

The six-story building partially collapsed in the blast, which was heard across the city and sent a plume of smoke into the sky.

One side of the hotel was completely smashed, with walls shattered and blackened by smoke. Hotel rubble and remains of the detonated car could be seen on the ground.

The Chinese embassy, located on the top two floors of the hotel, had its offices partially damaged in the attack, which was one of the fiercest in Mogadishu and caused panic among hotel staff and local residents.

"It was like an earthquake. I saw people die and others were screaming and running away from here and there," said Adbi Deeq, a hotel employee.

He told Xinhua that he had never heard an explosion like this before in the city.

Duniya Mohamed, a doctor at Madina Hospital, said they had received 45 injured people, some of whom were in serious condition.

"Some people got burnt; doctors are doing their best to save their lives," the doctor told Xinhua.

Al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based militant group linked with al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack on pro-militant radio station Andalus shortly after the bombing.

The radical organization said that the attack was to retaliate against the recent operations by African Union (AU) and Somali forces in the southern Somali regions of Dinsoor and Bardhere, and that they targeted the hotel because it houses "Western" embassies coordinating the offensive.

The attack came a day after the murder of a Somali lawmaker in Mogadishu.

The extremist group has regularly launched attacks in Somalia in recent years and has been targeting neighboring Kenya since 2011, when Kenyan troops entered Somalia to aid the government in its fight against the terrorist group.

The incident was the latest in a series of blasts and killings in the war-torn Horn of Africa nation.

On July 10, Al-Shabaab orchestrated a string of assaults on two hotels and a stadium in the capital, killing six people, including a parliamentarian and a senior government official.

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