At least 19 people have been killed including three government ministers after an explosion ripped through the Shamo Hotel in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, during a graduation ceremony.
A suicide bomber disguised as a woman carried out Thursday’s attack at the hotel during a crowded graduation ceremony for medical students from a local university, Dahir Mohamud Gelle, the Somali information minister, said.
Witnesses said the attack appeared to have targeted government officials.
It is the deadliest attack to hit Mogadishu for several months. No-one has yet claimed responsibility.
Of the three ministers killed in the blast, one was a woman – Qamar Aden Ali, the health minister. Ibrahim Hassan Adow, the minister for higher education, and Ahmed Abdullahi Wayel, the minister for education, also died.
Also among the dead were two journalists and two professors. At least 50 students were reportedly injured.
Saleban Olad Roble, the Somali sports minister, was also injured in the explosion.
Thursday’s attack is the second time this year members of government have been killed in a suicide bombing.
In June, the national security minister died in a suicide bombing that killed at least 24 people. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for that attack.
Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston’s reports.
This package contains images that may disturb or offend some viewers.