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Somali deputy minister among 11 dead in Mogadishu attack

Eleven people were killed including a deputy minister after Al Shabaab gunmen stormed a government building in the capital Mogadishu on Saturday.

In the latest bombing claimed by the Islamists, a huge explosion was heard in the city centre and a large plume of smoke rose above a building housing Somalia’s ministries of Labour and Works.

Gunfire could be heard in the ensuing battle.

Police later said the fighting at the building had ended after the militants were killed.

“The building was secured by security forces. The four militants who attacked the building were shot dead. Another militant was a suicide car bomber and so he also died,” Major Ali Abdullahi, a police officer told Reuters.

Mr Abdullahi said those killed included deputy Labour and Social Affairs minister Mr Saqar Ibrahim Abdalla and police officers.

Mr Abdalla was also a lawmaker.

Saqar Ibrahim Abdalla

Saqar Ibrahim Abdalla, Somalia’s Deputy Minister for Labour and Social Affairs was among five killed by Shabaab gunmen during an attack on their offices in Mogadishu on March 23, 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY OF HIRAAN

Police said earlier that some 20 people had been injured in the assault, which began when a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb after ramming into the gates of the ministry, allowing other militants to storm the building.

Dr Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Amin Ambulance Service said soon after the assault begun that people were trapped inside the building and that it was not possible to rescue them because of a heavy exchange of fire.

“The death toll reached eleven, three of them women, and the number of wounded is 15,” said Mr Abdirahman.

Somalia Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire sent his condolences to the families of the victims.

He vowed that the government would continue in its fight against the terrorist group.

Al Shabaab is fighting to establish its own rule in Somalia based on a strict interpretation of sharia law.

The Islamist group, 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 neighbouring Kenya, whose troops form part of the African Union mandated peacekeeping force Amisom that helps defend Somalia’s central government.

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