At least five people were killed and 14 others were injured after a powerful car bomb attack targeted a popular hotel in central Somalia on Sunday.
The attack destroyed not just the hotel but adjacent buildings in Jowhar, the administrative center of Hirshabelle state about 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of Somalia's capital Mogadishu.
A police officer in Jowhar told Anadolu Agency (AA) that it was a suicide car bomb attack that targeted Nur Dob hotel.
Eyewitnesses told AA that the explosion had affected nearby buildings and was one of the largest they had heard lately in the Horn of Africa country that has suffered major attacks in recent years.
Al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the bombing.
"I have never seen such devastation. I saw some dead bodies recovered from under the debris of the part of the hotel that collapsed." Another witness, Abdirahman Shabelow, said bystanders were wounded by blast debris. "I saw two civilians struck by shrapnel some distance from the hotel... the blast sent a powerful shockwave felt in every house across town."
Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre condemned the attack and sent his condolences to the victims' families.
Mahad Ibrahim, a Jowhar resident, said the explosion sent shrapnel flying and clouds of smoke and dust into the air.
The force of the shockwave ripped the roof of his house, he added.
Al-Shabab has been waging a deadly insurgency in Somalia for over a decade and remains capable of executing major attacks despite a long-running African Union operation to degrade the terrorists.