MOGADISHU // Security forces in Somalia yesterday ended an overnight siege by Al Shabab gunmen who killed eight people at a beachside restaurant in the capital, Mogadishu.
Police captain Mohamed Hussein said six civilians and two soldiers were killed at the Benadir Beach restaurant, a popular hangout for the capital city’s youth. Two assailants also died.
One drove a carful of explosives at the restaurant and blew it up when security forces opened fire. Other terrorist gunmen returned fire and also threw hand grenades. One man with a head wound was detained on suspicion of being the bomber. By yesterday morning officials said all the attackers had been killed.
“The restaurant is now under the full command of the Somali government soldiers,” said regional police commander Colonel Abshir Bishaa.
Al Shabab, which is linked to Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack via the Telegram messaging service, claiming to have killed “scores” of people.
The militant group said the restaurant was targeted because it was frequented by “apostates” indulging in “obscenity and vice”.
Al Shabab seeks to overthrow the internationally backed government in Mogadishu and impose an austere Islamic rule on Somalia.
It was the second time this year Al Shabab has attacked the Lido beach area and its restaurants, including upmarket establishments popular with businesspeople and Somalis who have returned home after living abroad.
In January, Al Shabab gunmen detonated a bomb before bursting into the Lido Sea Food Restaurant and spraying gunfire at customers, killing 20 people.
Despite abandoning the capital five years ago, Al Shabab launches regular attacks against government, military, civilian and foreign targets.
The fanatics have staged repeated attacks in neighbouring Kenya and a recent security analysis warned that the group was expanding its horizons with cells active in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda as well as Somalia.
* Agence France-Presse