14 June 2017

Somalia: Gunmen Kill Several, Take Dozens of Hostages in Mogadishu

Photo: Hamza Mohamed
Al-Shabaab fighters

Gunmen posing as military have taken dozens of hostages at a restaurant in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, after ramming a gate with a car bomb, killing at least 14. Extremist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility.

Two of the gunmen were later shot dead and 10 hostages freed, but five other attackers were thought to remain inside, according to Captain Mohamed Hussein.

At least nine people were killed and several wounded in the initial attack, most of them young men entering the popular Pizza House restaurant when the vehicle exploded, Hussein said, adding that attackers had cut off electricity to complicate security forces' efforts to end the siege

The gunmen "were dressed in military uniforms. They forced those fleeing the site to go inside" the restaurant, eyewitness Nur Yasin told The Associated Press.

Blast damages neighboring restaurant

Al-Shabab claimed to have attacked the neighboring Posh Treats restaurant, which is frequented by the city's elite and was damaged in the blast, security officials said.

Security forces rescued Asian, Ethiopian, Kenyan and other workers at Posh Treats as the attack continued, Hussein said.

Somalia-based al-Shabab often targets high-profile areas of Mogadishu, including hotels, military checkpoints and areas near the presidential palace.

Last year, al-Shabab became the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa, with more than 4,200 people killed in 2016, according to the Washington-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

jbh/cmk (Reuters, AP)

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