Several people were reportedly killed in suicide car bomb blasts and gun attacks at two restaurants near a beach in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Thursday. Al Shabaab -- the affiliate of al Qaeda in Somalia -- claimed responsibility for the attack on its radio station and said its fighters, wearing suicide vests, attacked the hotel with AK-47 rifles.
The attack took place at 7:30 pm local time when a suicide car bomb exploded at the Beach View restaurant after which militants stormed into the hotel and started shooting. A second car bomb went off at Lido Seafood restaurant about 30 minutes later.
"After the blast, I saw at least four armed men run into the hotel, shooting everyone inside and around the hotel... "I managed to escape with minor wounds, but there were people who were shot dead on the spot," Lido beach visitor Mustafa Elmi told DPA news agency, Al Jazeera reported.
The number of casualties is not yet certain, but five people are believed to be dead and two have been wounded, Colonel Abdulkadir Mohammed said, according to CNN.
"Thursday night in Mogadishu is like Friday night in other countries... It's very busy. People have their weddings; they go out to eat with their families," CNN quoted government spokesman Abdisalam Aato as saying.
All the militants were killed in the gunbattle that ensued after the attacks, Aato said.
"This is a barbaric act and we condemn this act... Al-Shabaab is trying to disrupt the peace and Somalis will not stand for it. We will not be intimidated," he added.
Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke condemned the attack in a tweet on Thursday. "I unreservedly condemn the barbaric attack @ Liido. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims," he tweeted.