Al-Shabab attack on restaurant kills at least 19 in Somalia
At least 19 people have been killed in an attack on a beachfront restaurant in the Somali capital Mogadishu, claimed by al-Qaeda-linked Shabab militants.
Police said security forces took control of the restaurant just before dawn Friday and rescued many people trapped inside the restaurant’s hall.
Special forces went from room to room pursuing the gunmen who were holed up inside the restaurant.
The militants exploded two explosive-laden cars about an hour apart on Thursday evening in the Lido beach area. The beach is busy with restaurants and popular with business people.
After the first explosion, gunmen reportedly burst into the restaurant as diners were sitting down for their evening meal.
Witnesses said the assailants began randomly firing at people and taking hostages.
“There was confusion, everybody started panicking, and some of them ran towards the gunmen and they were shot dead,” one witness, Abdirahman Halane, told AFP.
Officials said the gunmen wanted to kill more civilians but the security forces rescued most of the people. Four of the attackers were killed and one was captured.
Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke described the attack as “barbaric and brutal attack against innocent civilians.”
Shabab militants carry out regular attacks in the Somali capital and elsewhere across the Horn of Africa country, targeting African Union troops, government officials and foreigners.
Last week, the group attacked Kenyan peacekeepers in southwestern Somalia, claiming it had killed about 100 Kenyans and seized weapons and military vehicles.