Sunday January 22, 2023
At least five people were injured in a blast on Sunday at the gates of the mayor's office in Somalia's capital Mogadishu and gunfire continued to sound, a member of the ambulance service and a witness said.Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Aamin Ambulance Services, told Reuters that ambulance staff had so far evacuated five injured people from the scene of the blast.
Somalia's Islamist group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.
Gunfire was still ongoing in the area and it was difficult for ambulances to access the area, he said.
"We were in the office and we were deafened by a blast, we ran out, gunfire followed," Farah Abdullahi, who works in the mayor's office, told Reuters.
The mayor's office is located in the local government headquarters building in a well guarded area of Mogadishu.
Roads in the area have concrete barriers and multiple roadblocks. The building is about one and a half kilometres away from Villa Somalia, the president's office.
Security forces immediately put the area under lockdown but an exchange of gunfire between the army and the assailants was ongoing, an intelligence officer who only gave his name as Ahmed, told Reuters.
"Our Mujahideen have stormed the well-guarded apostate local government headquarter of Mogadishu, we first started with suicide bombs and then foot fighters entered the building after killing the building guards," Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's military operations spokesman, said in the statement
Al Shabaab frequently carries out bombings and gun assaults on targets in Mogadishu and across the country.
The group has been attacking Somalia's central government since 2006 as it seeks to topple it and replace it with its own rule that adheres to strict interpretation of Islam's sharia law.
Al Shabaab has stepped up attacks in recent months in a show of resilience after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's government launched an offensive against the al Qaeda-allied fighters last August.
Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Additional reporting by Feisal Omar Writing by Elias Biryabarema Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Susan Fenton.