This content is not available in your region

Car bomb, gunfire and hostage-taking rock Mogadishu restaurant

Access to the comments Comments
By Natalie Huet
Car bomb, gunfire and hostage-taking rock Mogadishu restaurant

<p>A suicide bombing and gun attack on a popular restaurant of the Somali capital Mogadishu early on Thursday killed at least 17 people, including foreigners.</p> <p>The Al Shabab Islamist militant group claimed responsibility, saying one of its fighters rammed a car packed with explosives onto the gates of a posh hotel.</p> <p>A photograph uploaded to social media by Abdulaziz Billow Ali showed the area affected by the explosion engulfed in flames, while loud gunfire can be heard in subsequent videos.</p> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The explosion caused a huge inferno inside the famous Pizza House Restaurant. Sporadic gunfire can still be heard <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Mogadishu?src=hash">#Mogadishu</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Somalia?src=hash">#Somalia</a>. <a href="https://t.co/gtilI4hQGS">pic.twitter.com/gtilI4hQGS</a></p>— Abdulaziz Billow Ali (@AbdulBillowAli) <a href="https://twitter.com/AbdulBillowAli/status/875041432691724288">June 14, 2017</a></blockquote><br /> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Al Shabab claimed the attack in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Mogadishu?src=hash">#Mogadishu</a>. <a href="https://t.co/9nscf9fWhF">pic.twitter.com/9nscf9fWhF</a></p>— Ruslan Trad (@ruslantrad) <a href="https://twitter.com/ruslantrad/status/875099449613324288">June 14, 2017</a></blockquote><br /> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <p>Gunmen then stormed the neighbouring restaurant and held dozens of people hostage inside.</p> <p>Special forces <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/14/world/africa/somalia-shabab-hotel-hostages.html?_r=0">rescued at least 50 hostages</a>, according to the state news media, but many were wounded in the attack, which dragged on late into the night.</p> <p>One witness said the gunmen were dressed like soldiers. They also cut off electricity to impede the siege by security forces.</p> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Its almost midnight in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Mogadishu?src=hash">#Mogadishu</a> and heavy exchange of gunfire can still be heard at Pizza House. Gunmen still holed up inside. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Somalia?src=hash">#Somalia</a> <a href="https://t.co/heb2uwl8AA">pic.twitter.com/heb2uwl8AA</a></p>— Abdulaziz Billow Ali (@AbdulBillowAli) <a href="https://twitter.com/AbdulBillowAli/status/875093979901177858">June 14, 2017</a></blockquote><br /> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Its already past dusk & gvt forces are still engaging gunmen in heavy gunfire. Smoke has engulfed z sky near the scene of z blast <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Somalia?src=hash">#Somalia</a> <a href="https://t.co/BJRCB9kzP1">pic.twitter.com/BJRCB9kzP1</a></p>— Abdulaziz Billow Ali (@AbdulBillowAli) <a href="https://twitter.com/AbdulBillowAli/status/875184264404455424">June 15, 2017</a></blockquote><br /> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <h3>Stepping up attacks</h3> <p>Al-Shabab last year became the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa, with more than 4,200 people killed in 2016, according to the Washington-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies.</p> <p>The group has carried out a campaign of suicide bombings in its bid to topple the Somali government and impose its strict interpretation of Islam. It often targets high-profile areas of Mogadishu, including hotels, military checkpoints and areas near the presidential palace. It has vowed to step up attacks after the recently elected government launched a new military offensive against it.</p> <p>They have also been behind attacks in neighbouring Kenya, including the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/09/30/world/africa/mall-aftermath-photos.html">Westgate Mall siege</a> in Nairobi in 2013. Deadly attacks on hotels popular with foreigners have become one of their trademarks.</p>