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14.06.2017 Somalia

Suicide bomber targets popular Mogadishu restaurant

Africa A general view of Mogadishu skyline.  By STUART PRICE (AU-UN IST PHOTO/AFP/File)
JUN 14, 2017 SOMALIA
A general view of Mogadishu skyline. By STUART PRICE (AU-UN IST PHOTO/AFP/File)

Mogadishu (AFP) - Casualties were feared on Wednesday evening after a suicide car bomber targeted a popular restaurant in the Somali capital Mogadishu, triggering a gun fight with security forces, police and witnesses said.

"The suicide bomber drove a car loaded with explosives into the building," said Ali Mohamed, a police official, identifying the target as the Posh Treats restaurant.

There was no immediate death toll but witnesses reported hearing sporadic gunfire afterwards.

Abas Ahmed, who was at another nearby restaurant when the explosion happened, described seeing "the dead bodies of several people and others who were injured."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the Shabaab, an al-Qaeda aligned militant group, commonly launches suicide attacks in the capital, especially against hotels and restaurants. Attacks often increase in tempo during Ramadan and Wednesday's bombing came in the evening after the breaking of the fast when mosques and restaurants are busy.

Posh Treats, a relatively new restaurant in an affluent part of the capital, is particularly popular with young and diaspora Somalis.