Traders and pedestrians killed in bomb attack on Somalia hotel

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A auto bomb detonated near Somalia's parliament in the capital Mogadishu, killing at least two people and wounding several others, a senior police officer said.

The auto bomb was detonated at a checkpoint after soldiers intercepted and stopped a suspicious vehicle, senior police Capt. Mohamed Hussein told The Associated Press.

"We now have established that five people have been killed", the officer said.

The injured were rushed to hospitals for treatment, he said.

The blast site was located next to the Interior Ministry and just 200 meters (219 yards) away from the presidential palace.

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The attack was claimed by al-Shabab, Reuters news agency reported, citing the armed group's military operation spokesman.

Thursday's blast comes nearly exactly a month after two vehicle bomb blasts in Mogadishu shattered a months-long period of calm in the city, killing at least 21 people.

Somali-based al-Qaeda affiliated group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack on the Internet. Concerns have been high over plans to hand over the country's security to Somalia's own forces as a 21,000-strong African Union force begins a withdrawal that is expected to be complete in 2020. A truck bomb attack on the capital in October killed more than 500 people, the deadliest single attack in Somalia's history.

The threat posed by al-Shabab reflects the struggle Somalian forces face in maintaining security in the country.

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