2 left lanes of NB US 45 closed for construction, backups now in excess of 5 miles

Huge blast rocks Somalia’s capital; police say 20 killed

Men and Somalian soldiers arrive on the site to rescue victims of the explosion of a truck bomb in the centre of Mogadishu, on October 14, 2017. A truck bomb exploded outside a hotel at a busy junction in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on October 14, 2017 causing widespread devastation that left at least 20 dead, with the toll likely to rise. / AFP PHOTO / Mohamed ABDIWAHAB

MOGADISHU, Somalia — A huge explosion from a truck bomb killed 20 people in Somalia’s capital, police said Saturday, as shaken residents called it the most powerful blast they’d heard in years.

The explosion appeared to target a hotel on a busy road in Hodan district and at least 15 people were injured, police Capt. Mohamed Hussein said. Security forces had been trailing the truck after it raised suspicions, he said.

Gunshots could be heard at the site, and ambulance sirens wailed across the capital.

The blast occurred two days after the head of the U.S. Africa Command was in Mogadishu to meet with Somalia’s president, and two days after the country’s defense minister and army chief resigned for undisclosed reasons.

The Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab recently stepped up attacks on army bases across south and central Somalia. While there was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday’s blast, al-Shabab often targets high-profile areas of Mogadishu with deadly bombings.

The U.S. military has stepped up drone strikes and other efforts this year against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, which is also fighting the Somali military and over 20,000 African Union forces in the country.