MOGADISHU, Mar 1 – At least two people were killed and several wounded in twin attacks at a restaurant on the popular beachfront of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, witnesses and police said Friday.
The blast, the latest in a string of attacks in the war-ravaged city, reportedly included a car bomb followed shortly after by an attacker wearing a suicide vest packed with explosives.
“There was a big explosion from a car, then as people rushed towards the area after the blast, a suicide bomber with a vest exploded himself,” said Mohammed Abdullahi, a businessman who was inside the restaurant when the attack took place.
He saw the dead bodies of two security guards, and said at least nine other people were wounded.
“Many people who were wounded ran away after the explosion, so more might have been injured,” he added.
The explosion took place close to Mogadishu’s famous Lido beach, which is usually crowded on weekends with families enjoying the beach, playing football or swimming in the Indian Ocean waves.
“There was a heavy explosion, and then a short time later there was another,” said policeman Ali Mohammed, who was near the scene of the attack.
One person was killed in a similar car bomb blast in the area last month.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, but Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents have launched a series of guerrilla-style attacks in Mogadishu in recent months.
The insurgents have vowed to topple President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who took office in September after being chosen by the country’s new parliament.
But the once powerful Shebab are on the back foot inside Somalia, having fled a string of key towns ahead of a 17,000-strong African Union force which is also fighting alongside Somali soldiers.
However, the Shebab remain a potent threat, still controlling rural areas as well as carrying out guerrilla attacks in areas apparently under government control.
Some, retreating ahead of AU-led assaults, have relocated to the northern Golis mountains in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region.