At least seven people have been killed in a bomb and gun attack on a seaside restaurant in the Somali capital Mogadishu claimed by terrorist group al-Shabaab, according to reports.
“A car bomb exploded at Banadir beach restaurant at Lido beach and there is exchange of gunfire. We have no other details so far,” Major Ahmed Ibrahim, a police officer, told Reuters news agency on Thursday.
The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab group claimed responsibility for the attack.
“We attacked the Banadir beach restaurant and now our fighters are fighting inside it,” al-Shabaab’s military operation spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters.
Liido attack: At least 9 people are confirmed dead( 5 civilians,2 security forces and 2 attackers) only 2 people are confirmed wounded.
— Hussein Mohamed (@HussienM12) August 26, 2016
Security forces say they killed two attackers and arrested one other after a six-hour operation overnight, now concluded.
Police said that nine people were killed in the attack, including five civilians, two members of the security forces and two attackers, the Somali State News Agency (SONNA) reported.
The man arrested was the driver of the car that exploded and was badly wounded in the attack, SONNA said.
A police officer tells @SONNALIVE that 9 r dead in the Al-Shabab attack on Banadir Beach rest.(More will be known once dawn breaks in 3hrs)
— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) August 26, 2016
The Banadir Beach Restaurant near Lido beach is a popular eatery frequented by young people and Somali officials.
Al Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, has carried out a series of deadly attacks in Somalia to try to topple the Western-backed government.
In January, its militants stormed another restaurant on Lido beach, killing 17 people.
On Sunday, more than 20 people were killed when its suicide bombers detonated two car bombs at a local government headquarters in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region.
On Thursday, Reuters witnesses near the scene of the beach attack said the restaurant had been sealed off by security officers and that the attackers had lobbed grenades at the officers and fired at them.
Al-Shabaab was pushed out of Mogadishu by the African Union peacekeeping force AMISOM in 2011 but has remained a potent threat in Somalia, launching frequent attacks aimed at overthrowing the Western-backed government.
In a separate incident in southern Somalia, a roadside bomb believed to have been planted by al Shabaab militants wounded at three people in Baardheere town in Gedo region, Colonel Hussein Nur, a police officer in the town, told Reuters by phone.
The group is expected to try and violently disrupt elections due to be held in September and October.