Dec 16, 2017 Last Updated 8:35 AM, Dec 15, 2017
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The Somali government has fired two top security officials after twin blasts and a siege left  at ;east 27 people dead on Saturday.

They came just two weeks after at least 358 people died in another attack, one of the deadliest ever to hit Mogadishu.

Police chief Abdihakin Dahir Saiid and the director of national intelligence, Abdillahi Mohamed Sanbaloosh, were both removed from office on Sunday.

The decision came after an emergency cabinet meeting, Somali officials say.

The Islamist militant group al-Shabab says it carried out Saturday's bombings.

Police say three militants were captured alive and two others blew themselves up during the attack.

The siege started on Saturday afternoon after a car bomb was driven into the Nasahablod Two hotel. A few minutes later, a second car bomb targeted the former parliament house nearby.

Sporadic gunfire continued inside the hotel throughout the night, witnesses said. Police said the siege lasted almost 12 hours.

Al-Shabab - with has links with al-Qaeda - denies having any involvement in the 14 October attack.

The militants say they targeted the hotel on Saturday because it was frequented by security officials and politicians.

The dead included at least 12 policemen. Many more people were injured.

Provincial leaders, police and intelligence officials were gathering for a meeting with the government to agree on a joint strategy against al-Shabab, due to take place on Sunday.

A massive bomb attack in a busy area of the Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday is now known to have killed at least 230 people, police say.

Hundreds more were wounded when a lorry packed with explosives detonated near the entrance of a hotel.

It is the deadliest terror attack in Somalia since the Islamist al-Shabab group launched its insurgency in 2007.

President Mohamed Abdullahi "Farmajo" Mohamed blamed the attack on them, calling it a "heinous act".

No group has yet said it was behind the bombing.

"Brothers, this cruel act was targeted at civilians who were going about their business," the president said.

He has declared three days of mourning for the victims of the blast.

Local media reported families gathering in the area on Sunday morning, looking for missing loved ones amid the ruins of one of the largest bombs ever to strike the city.

Police official Ibrahim Mohamed told AFP news agency the death toll was likely to rise. "There are more than 300 wounded, some of them seriously," he said.

Officials also confirmed that two people were killed in a second bomb attack in the Madina district of the city.

Mogadishu's Mayor Thabit Abdi called for unity while addressing a crowd of people who had gathered to protest.

"Oh, people of Mogadishu, Mogadishu shouldn't be a graveyard for burnt dead bodies," he said.

"Mogadishu is a place of respect, and if we remain united like we are today, moving ahead, we will surely defeat the enemy, Allah willing."

Police official Ibrahim Mohamed told AFP news agency the death toll was likely to rise. "There are more than 300 wounded, some of them seriously," he said.

Officials also confirmed that two people were killed in a second bomb attack in the Madina district of the city.

Mogadishu's Mayor Thabit Abdi called for unity while addressing a crowd of people who had gathered to protest.

"Oh, people of Mogadishu, Mogadishu shouldn't be a graveyard for burnt dead bodies," he said.

"Mogadishu is a place of respect, and if we remain united like we are today, moving ahead, we will surely defeat the enemy, Allah willing."

 

Militant Islamists have attacked a Somali military base and police station near the border with Kenya, killing eight soldiers, an official has said.

The al-Shabab militants rammed the base in Beled Hawa town with an explosives-packed vehicle, and then stormed it on foot, Mohamud Hayd Osman added.

Al-Shabab said it had killed 30 soldiers in the hit-and-run attack.

It has carried out a spate of attacks in Somalia and Kenya since launching an insurgency more than a decade ago.

The African Union has an 18,000-strong force helping the UN-backed Somali government tackle the militants.

The assault on Beled Hawa also left dozens of civilians wounded.

The militants also blew up the police station and a phone mast, before retreating, Mr Osman added.

The assault shows that al-Shabab remains a dangerous force, despite losing territory to the AU force and some of its top commanders being killed in US air strikes, reports the BBC Somali service's Bashkas Jugsodaay from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

In January, al-Shabab said it had killed 50 Kenyan soldiers in an assault on their base in Kolbiyow town in southern Somalia.

Kenyan troops are part of the AU force in Somalia.

 

Somali authorities have arrested seven head teachers who they accuse of meeting al-Shabab militants.

They are said to have discussed changing the curriculum at private schools to favour the Islamist group's ideology.

Each of the principals is responsible for around 1,000 students, ranging in age from seven to 15.

Al-Shabab has been waging a war against Somalia's federal government for the last 10 years.

Mahad Hassan Osman, the information minister for the central Hir-Shabelle region, told the BBC's Somali service that the teachers had been intercepted and arrested near the town of Jowhar.

''We arrested them 15km outside the town.

"They were attempting to change the school's curriculum to suit what the group believes in, which is the implementation of strict Islamic law.''

The minister has said the teachers will be taken to court once an investigation has taken place.

Al-Shabab, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, has been pushed out of Somalia's main towns but still controls many rural areas.

The militant group launched its own curriculum in April, and produces school textbooks reflecting its Islamist agenda.

His lawyers argued that the killing was an accident, the AFP news agency reports.

They said that the minister's car attracted suspicion after it drove up behind the car carrying the auditor general, who the soldier was protecting.

His lawyers argued that the killing was an accident, the AFP news agency reports.

They said that the minister's car attracted suspicion after it drove up behind the car carrying the auditor general, who the soldier was protecting.

At 31, Mr Siraji became Somalia's youngest-ever member of parliament last November before becoming the minister of public works earlier this year.

He grew up as a refugee in neighbouring Kenya, home to hundreds of thousands of Somalis who fled drought and conflict, and was seen a role model for his widely admired determination to succeed.

Sensing his popularity with the youth, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo appointed him to the cabinet.

When Mr Siraji was killed, the president cut short a visit to Ethiopia to attend his state funeral.

Somalia has been wracked by conflict since the long-serving ruler Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.

It is currently battling militant Islamists from the al-Shabab group, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda.

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