Central Mogadishu in pandemonium as al-Shabaab militants attack government ministry building

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Central Mogadishu was shaken on Saturday by a car bomb blast at a government ministry building, with Islamist group al-Shabaab claiming responsibility for the attack in the Somali capital.

“The first blast took place at the Ministry of Labor … there are also other ministry buildings near the scene. It was a suicide car bomb followed by gunfire,” police officer Major Mohamed Hussein said, adding there had been a second explosion.

al-Shabaab, which is fighting to establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Sharia law, said one of its fighter had rammed the ministry building with a car bomb, allowing others to enter it.

“We are inside the building and (the) fighting goes on. We shall give details later,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabaab’s military operation spokesman told Reuters.

al-Shabaab, which is trying to topple Somalia’s western backed central government, was ejected from Mogadishu in 2011 and has since been driven from most of its other strongholds.

But it remains a threat, with its fighters frequently carrying out bombings in Somalia and neighboring Kenya, whose troops form part of the African Union mandated peacekeeping force AMISOM that helps defend Somalia’s central government.

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