Al-Shabab launches deadly attack on Mogadishu restaurant
Gunmen stormed a popular beachside restaurant in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Thursday, detonating car bombs and exchanging gunfire with government soldiers in an ongoing battle that has so far killed at least three people.
Al-Shabab, an armed group aligned with Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack at the Beach View Cafe on Mogadishu’s popular Lido beach, an area that is busy with restaurants and other upmarket establishments popular with business people.
The assailants may have taken some hostages inside the Lido Seafood restaurant, said Capt. Mohamed Hussein.
“The operation [to overpower the attackers] is ongoing now. The [attackers] are still inside and fighting our troops,” Hussein said from the scene of the attack as gunfire rang out in the background. He said he had counted at least three bodies outside the restaurant.
An unknown number of people are still trapped inside the restaurant, and the death toll is likely to rise when the attack is over, he said, adding that darkness is hampering efforts by security forces to overwhelm the assailants.
Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, spokesman for Al-Shabab’s military operations, told Reuters “there are many casualties lying inside and outside the cafe.”
Police said Al-Shabab fighters set off the first car bomb at dusk. A second blast struck about an hour later as government soldiers laid siege to the restaurant.
“The second car bomb has just exploded and the fighters are still inside,” Major Farah Abdulle, a police officer at the scene, told Reuters. “We cannot know the number of casualties inside.”
Al-Shabab wants to topple the Western-backed government in Mogadishu and impose a strict version of Islamic law across Somalia, a nation racked by conflict since the outbreak of civil war in 1991.