Thursday, 15 June 2017

SOMALIA: Pizza House Restaurant Bombed By Al Shabaab

A suicide car bombing and assault by Al-Shabaab militants on two neighbouring restaurants in Somalia's capital Mogadishu ended Thursday morning with 18 dead, a government spokesman said.

"The operation is over now and the gunmen were killed by the security forces," said Mohamed Ahmed Arab, spokesman for Somalia's security ministry.

They have attacked business places and killed innocent civilians: 18 civilians were killed, including a Syrian national, and more than 10 others were wounded, he said.

The attack began at around 8pm (1700GMT) on Wednesday evening with a suicide car bombing at the Posh Treats restaurant and club, after which gunmen stormed inside the nearby Pizza House restaurant.

Both venues are popular with affluent, young and diaspora Somalis and were busy as customers broke the Ramadan fast.

The gunmen spent the night roaming the restaurant killing those they found trapped before they were eventually killed by the security forces.

The Al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda aligned militant group that launches regular suicide attacks in the capital against civilian, government and military targets, claimed responsibility for the bombing via its Radio Andalus broadcaster and said that its gunmen had afterwards stormed the restaurant compound.

Islamist 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.

The Al-Shabaab has been fighting for the last decade to overthrow successive internationally-backed governments in Mogadishu and has also launched attacks in Kenya and Uganda, both contributors to a 22,000-strong African Union force in the country.

Although pushed out of the capital in 2011 the group still controls parts of the countryside where a drought threatens to tip into famine this year.