Al-Shabab claims responsibility for suicide bombing in popular Mogadishu restaurant

03.01.2016

A suicide bomber blew himself up on Saturday inside a restaurant in central Mogadishu not far from the presidential palace, killing at least four people – including the attacker – according to initial reports by local security officials and witnesses.

The Village restaurant – which has now been targeted four times in recent years – is popular with government officials, local journalists, business people and ordinary civilians, including Somalis returned from abroad.

So far, most of those reported killed are civilians who were inside the cafe at the time, according to one Somali police officer, Mahad Hussein, who spoke to journalists over the phone.

The bombing occurred at about 9:45 am local time (0645 GMT).

"There are fears of more casualties," said the officer.

A witness, Burhan Diini, said he saw several wounded victims after the attack. Ambulances were seen rushing to the scene. Security forces surrounded the area.

One Somali journalist and a survivor of the bombing, Abdiqadar Abdullahi, spoke to reporters.

"I saw a suspicious man dressed in civilian clothing. There was a fear on his face and I believe he was carrying something. I fled into a nearby building with other Somali journalists and guests and then there was a huge explosion with black smoke from the whole area," he said.

The militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack in a brief statement made by spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Mus'ab aired on pro-insurgent radio broadcaster Andalus.

A senior Somali intelligence officer who asked to be unnamed told journalists that al-Shabab is now focusing on civilian sites and soft targets in Mogadishu because the group has failed in attempts to attack either a high-profile government site or a foreign troop installation.

"They wanted to escalate violence and hit government places and AU military bases in the capital. We believe that al-Shabab has sent multiple suicide bombers to the capital," he said.

Al-Shabab carried out its first attack on the restaurant in September 2012. It remains a target because it is popular with some Somali intelligence members and government supporters.    (dpa)

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