At least 20 people were killed and 30 wounded in a suicide bombing outside a restaurant near the port in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu late on Friday, emergency services said.
Somalian police said a three-wheeler rickshaw, fitted to carry a load on the back, had been packed with explosives when it hit the popular Luul Yemeni restaurant at dinner time.
Witnesses and state-owned media said the blast sent plumes of smoke into the sky and triggered gunfire, while at least one building near the restaurant collapsed, with people feared to be trapped in the rubble. The blast occurred at dinner time when the restaurant was full.
The attack was claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab terror group, which has been waging a long and violent insurgency seeking to unseat the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu.
Security in Mogadishu had been especially heavy, with thousands of government forces deployed in anticipation of a planned demonstration on Saturday by an alliance of opposition leaders over the country’s delayed national election. The demonstration was later postponed.
Dr Abdulkadir Aden, founder of AAMIN Ambulance services told Reuters: ‘So far we have carried 20 dead people and 30 injured from the blast scene.’ https://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/x7zjire
Security officer Mohamed Osman told AFP: ‘The blast was very heavy and caused massive destruction and civilian casualties, the operation is still going on to establish the exact number of casualties but initial information security officials obtained indicates more than 10 people died.’
Ahmed Abdullahi, who lives near the site of the explosion, said: ‘A speeding car exploded at Luul Yemeni restaurant. I was going to the restaurant but ran back when the blast shook and covered the area with smoke.’
Somalia’s state-controlled Radio Mogadishu reported there was also destruction of property and that police had cordoned off the area.
Islamist group al Shabaab frequently carries out bombings in Somalia and elsewhere as part of its campaign to topple the African country’s central government and establish its own rule based on its interpretation of sharia law.
They were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011, but still control swathes of territory from where they plan and launch frequent, deadly strikes against government and civilian targets.