Mogadishu: Somalia`s president vowed on Saturday he would not halt efforts to restore peace and security to the country in the wake of a car bomb attack in central Mogadishu by al Qaeda-linked Shabaab rebels.
The huge blast yesterday evening outside a top hotel in Somalia`s capital killed at least four people, including a government official, and wounded 15, according to the government.
"I strongly condemn this heinous act of terrorism outside the Maka al Mukurama Hotel by Shabaab, which caused deaths and injuries to civilians," Somalia`s internationally backed president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, said in a statement.
"The aim of the attack was to terrorise people in order to stop the huge progress towards peace and stability in Somalia. We say out loudly to Shebab that you will never stop us making huge progress towards peace and stability and good governance," he added.
Officials said one of the country`s top diplomats -- Abdulkadir Ali Dhuub, a former acting ambassador to London -- was killed when the car bomb exploded outside the hotel, which is popular with officials and businessmen.
The statement from the presidency said another blast was averted, with a man carrying a "laptop and explosive items" apprehended while trying to set off a bomb inside the hotel at the same time as the car bomb.
In northeastern Somalia`s semi-autonomous Puntland region, authorities said they had also repelled a late Friday night Shabaab raid on a prison holding militants.
"A group estimated to be 30 to 40 men armed with rocket launchers, machine-guns and hand grenades attacked Bossaso Central Prison," the regional government said in the statement, adding that its troops "bravely defended the prison and repelled the attackers".
It said no prisoners escaped during the raid, and that Shabaab rebels were being pursued into a nearby mountainous area.
Shabaab militants have been pushed out of Mogadishu but still control large parts of the countryside and have continued to strike at the heart of the capital.
In September the group also claimed responsibility for a massacre at an upmarket shopping centre in the Kenyan capital Nairobi that left at least 67 dead.
The latest attack comes as the African Union force in Somalia, AMISOM, is asking the UN Security Council to green-light a boost in its numbers as part of efforts to step up offensive operations against the Shabaab.
It also comes after a US army drone strike on a Shabaab convoy last month that officials said killed the rebels` top suicide bomb-maker.