Militants with the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab terror group have launched a bomb and gun attack on a beach restaurant in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, with reports saying the gunfight is still underway.
According to local police officials, the militants initially detonated the car bomb outside the compound before opening fire on the restaurant close to the Turkish embassy on Thursday night.
“A car bomb exploded at Banadir beach restaurant at Lido beach and there is exchange of gunfire. We have no other details so far,” media outlets quoted Major Ahmed Ibrahim, a police officer, as saying.
Residents near the scene of said the attack prompted an exchange of fire with the security forces and shooting could be heard all night. They added that the restaurant had been sealed off by security officers, and that the attackers had lobbed grenades at the officers and fired at them.
Witnesses told Reuters that they had also seen two bodies lying on the ground.
Abdifatah Halane, spokesperson for Mogadishu Mayor Yusuf Hussein Jimaale, said in a press statement that security forces have captured one of the “bombers alive, and the operation [is] still going on.”
Internal Security Minister Abdirizak Omar Mohamed has warned residents to stay indoors.
“Warning: People near the blast scene should stay in the hotels and in their houses in which they are inside. Cars should not enter Lido beach area,” the minister said on his Twitter account.
Meanwhile, Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab’s military operation spokesman, has claimed responsibility for the attack on the restaurant. “We attacked the Banadir beach restaurant and now our fighters are fighting inside it.”
People and security forces walk across the scene of a car bomb attack claimed by al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab militants on the Naasa Hablood hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, June 25, 2016. ©AFP
The al-Shabab terror group has carried out a series of deadly attacks in Somalia to try to overthrow the government.
On August 21, more than 20 people were killed when two bombs hit a local government headquarters in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region.
Somalia has been the scene of deadly clashes between government forces and al-Shabab militants since 2006.
The Takfiri terrorists have been pushed out of Mogadishu and other major cities by government forces and the African Union Mission to Somalia, which is largely made up of troops from Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Kenya.
Al-Shabab members, however, continue to carry out attacks in Mogadishu despite being driven out from their bases in 2011.