Al Shabaab attacks Somali government building in Mogadishu, at least nine dead - UPDATED

# 18:06
23 March 2019

Somalia’s al Shabaab stormed a government building on Saturday, detonating a suicide car bomb in the heart of the capital Mogadishu with at least nine people, including an assistant minister, killed during an ensuing gun battle, ONA reports citing Reuters.

The large explosion shook the center of Mogadishu and a large plume of smoke rose above the scene of the blast, a building that houses Somalia’s ministries of labor and works.

It was the latest bombing claimed by Al Shabaab, an Islamist group which is fighting to establish its own rule in Somalia, based on a strict interpretation of sharia law.

“So far seven people died including an assistant minister who is also an MP,” Major Mohamed Hussein, a police officer told Reuters, identifying the minister as Saqar Ibrahim Abdala, assistant labor minister.

Hussein said two of the al Shabaab fighters who entered the building after an initial suicide car bomb had been killed in a firefight and that much of the building had been secured.

“We believe there are other militants hiding themselves,” he said, adding that 20 people had been injured in the assault.

Dr. Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Amin Ambulance Service told Reuters some people were still trapped inside the building and that it was not possible to rescue them because of an ongoing gun battle.