|Somali security forces guard the entrance to the Central Hotel, close to the presidential palace, in Mogadishu on February 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Mohamed Abdiwahab)|
Somali intelligence believe both suicide bombers -- a man and a woman -- were Dutch-Somali citizens who infiltrated the Central Hotel close to the presidential palace ahead of the attack.
Sources within the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) said the man, identified as Ismail Muse, exploded a bomb in a car parked at the hotel while the woman, Lula Ahmed Dahir, detonated her explosive vest inside the hotel's prayer room.
The woman "worked part time in the hotel for up to four months," according to an intelligence report seen by AFP.
"Her relationship to the male attacker... is not yet known but thought to be very close, if not husband," said the report.
The attack left 25 people dead including two MPs, the deputy mayor of Mogadishu, the Prime Minister's private secretary and the deputy PM's chief of staff.
Deputy PM Mohamed Arte, the minister of transport and minister of port and marine resources were among dozens of injured.
Heavy gunfire followed the two explosions as nervous security forces searched the hotel compound.
"The building was badly hit, the explosion was very big," said police officer Abulrahman Ali.
Thick clouds of black smoke were seen pouring from the hotel as the injured were rushed to hospital.
Shebab militants quickly claimed responsibility for the attack.
"Our fighters attacked the Central Hotel," Shebab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab told AFP, saying that the aim had been "to kill the apostate officials."
Shebab rebels have staged a string of assaults in their fight to overthrow the country's internationally-backed government. They have targeted hotels, the international airport, the presidential palace known as Villa Somalia, a UN compound and restaurants.
The last most deadly attack targeting government was in December 2009 when Shebab gunmen went room-to-room in the Shamo Hotel killing 25 people, including three ministers.