Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – At least six people were killed, and several others were injured in an attack by Al-Shabab militants at the mayor’s office in the central district of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, on Sunday.
The attack began with a suicide bomb causing a massive blast that destroyed a building near the office complex. After the explosion, gunfire erupted, and a four-hour siege ensued.
According to police spokesman Sadik Dodishe, five attackers were killed during the fire exchange with the security forces, and one detonated himself. Six civilians also died during the attack. All the mayor’s office staffers were rescued, and the situation is now normal.
Witnesses reported that the initial blast damaged nearby buildings, and heavy gunfire could be heard in the building of the mayor’s office. Security officers quickly cordoned off the area.
Al-Shabab, a militant organization linked to Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack through its communication channels. The group stated that its fighters had “made their way inside the building after killing the security guards.”
Al-Shabab has been waging a bloody insurgency against the internationally-backed central government of Somalia for 15 years and has carried out attacks in Somalia and neighboring countries.
This latest attack comes on the heels of another assault just days prior, where seven soldiers were killed at a military camp in Galcad, a town in central Somalia. The United States military has reported that more than 100 Al-Shabab militants attacked Galcad.
In recent months, the Somali National Army and local clan militias have made significant progress in their offensive against the group, reclaiming territory in the center of the country with the support of US air strikes and an African Union force.
However, the militants continue retaliating and striking with deadly force against civilian and military targets.
Just days after the government declared a “historic victory” over the group, Al-Shabab launched another attack on the Galcad army base in central Somalia, killing seven soldiers.
The group has been removed from major urban centers for over a decade. However, they remain in rural parts of central and southern Somalia.
In October last year, the group carried out one of the deadliest attacks in history, killing 121 people in two car bomb explosions at the education ministry in Mogadishu.
The group has also been active in neighboring Kenya, a member of the African Union force in Somalia, carrying out several small-scale attacks.