According to Somali police, late on Thursday, at least twenty people were killed in the Somali capital Mogadishu when five Islamist gunmen set off bombs and stormed a popular beach-front restaurant.
Police officer Osman Nur disclosed Friday that “the operation ended at 3 AM last night and at least 20 civilians were killed.” Somalia’s security minister, Abdirizak Omar Mohamed, reported that four of the gunmen were killed, adding that one was captured alive. Al-Shabaab has since claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that its fighters set off two car bombs at the Beach View Café on Mogadishu’s popular Lido beach, and engaged in a gun battle for hours with government troops trying to flush them out. Police officials have disclosed that al-Shabaab fighters set off the first car bomb at dusk, with witnesses reporting that a huge second blast, which echoed around the city centre, struck about an hour later as government soldiers laid siege to the restaurant. The country’s prime minister urged the public to remain calm and called the attack on a civilian target was a desperate move by a group facing annihilation.
The attack comes a week after al-Shabaab overran an African Union (AU) base near the Kenyan border, saying that they had killed more than 100 Kenyan soldiers and captured a number of them. Kenya has not commented on the toll.
On Thursday, a car bomb exploded near a café in Somalia’s capital city Mogadishu. The explosion occurred in an area close to the intelligence headquarters, with police officials indicating that at least seven people were killed. Sources have indicated that the café, which is located near the city’s Lido beach, was reportedly popular with security officials.
Police official Ahmed Mumin confirmed the explosion, stating “we have counted twelve civilians killed in the car bomb, but the toll could be higher as many people were also wounded.” Eight other people were wounded. Eyewitnesses have reported that the bomber targeted a security vehicle, with three members of the security forces amongst the dead. Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for this latest attack in Mogadishu. The militant group’s military operations spokesman, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, stated shortly after the blast that “today’s blast was part of our operations in Mogadishu and we shall continue.”
Thursday’s blast comes just a week after al-Shabaab militants carried out a major attack against the heavily fortified presidential palace, killing officials and guards in a fierce gun battle. It is also comes after a string of attacks that have been carried out in the capital city in what appears to be an apparent upsurge of al-Shabaab bombings in and around Mogadishu, with night-time mortar rounds fired into the vast, heavily guarded airport complex which also houses the 22,000-strong African Union force as well as foreign diplomats and aid workers.