MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A suicide car bomber killed at least nine people Wednesday near a hotel where lawmakers often gather in the Somali capital Mogadishu, police said.
Police officer Hassan Ali told Reuters the attacker rammed his vehicle into a cafe by the Hotel Muna, which was also stormed by al Shabaab militants in August 2010 in an attack that killed more than 30 people.
"So far we have carried nine dead civilians and 34 others injured. Up to now we have not seen casualties of any legislators. The death toll may rise," said Ali.
Police and the spokesman for African Union troops in Somalia said initial reports showed that the attacker first opened fire on people sitting near the hotel before detonating the car.
While al Shabaab pulled its forces out of the capital last year, they launch frequent attacks against the Western-backed government with suicide bombers, roadside bombs and grenades.
The attack comes two weeks ahead of a one-day conference in London to tackle the instability in Somalia and piracy off its shores, and the same day the European Union's new special envoy to the Horn of Africa visited Mogadishu.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague also visited Mogadishu last week and appointed a new Somalia ambassador, but said Britain would not open an embassy in Mogadishu until security improved.
(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Editing by David Clarke)