Mogadishu, Somalia (AFP):
At least six people were killed in an attack by Al-Shabaab militants at the mayor’s office in central Mogadishu on Sunday, police said.
A suicide bomber set off a huge blast that tore through a building near the office complex with gunfire starting afterwards, Somali police spokesman Sadik Dudishe said at the end of the four-hour siege.
“All the six attackers died. Five of them during the fire exchange with the security forces and one of them detonated himself,” Dudishe told reporters.
“Six civilians also died during the attack and the situation is back to normal.”
All the staffers at the mayor’s office were rescued, the police added.
Al-Shabaab, a group allied with Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack via its communication channels, saying its fighters “made their way inside the targeted building after killing the security guards.”
Witnesses said the initial explosion damaged nearby buildings and gunfire could be heard in the vicinity of the mayor’s office.
The area was quickly cordoned off by security officers, a witness who runs a business near the offices, said.
Another witness, Omar Nur, said he was inside a nearby mall when the explosion went off and “was lucky to have escaped safely.”
In recent months, the Somali army and local clan militias have mounted a major offensive against the group, retaking swathes of territory in the centre of the country in an operation backed by US air strikes and an African Union force.