Somali militants holed up as battle rages in Mogadishu
Somalia’s security forces are battling gunmen holed up in a building in Mogadishu, hours after a suicide car bomb attack on a busy street left at least seven people dead.
The attack was launched late on Thursday by suspected al-Shabab militants in an area lined with hotels, shops and restaurants.
The gunmen then seized a nearby building and were surrounded.
Exchanges of gunfire continued throughout the night in the capital.
Some 60 people have been injured and seven have died, a spokesman for the Aamin Ambulance service told the BBC.
A number of civilians have been rescued from the building, reports say.
There are fears that the death toll will rise further.
“There are still some armed men inside a building,” police officer Ibrahim Mohamed was quoted as saying on Friday morning by the AFP news agency.
The secretary-general of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) Mohamed Moalimuu was inside the Maka al-Mukarama hotel with a colleague when they heard gunshots followed by a blast.
The Islamist group al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, was forced out of Mogadishu in 2011 but continues to mount regular attacks in the city.
The US has sharply increased its air strikes against the group since President Trump took power.
The US State Department says al-Shabab retains control over large parts of the country and has the ability to carry out high-profile attacks using suicide bombers, explosive devices, mortars and small arms.