At least five people have been killed in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, after a suicide bomber blew himself up in a restaurant near a police academy.
Mohamed Abdirahman, a police officer at the scene, said two of the victims of Tuesday’s attack were police personnel.
More than 10 people were wounded and rushed to hospital, some in serious condition, Abdirahman told AFP news agency.
Witness Abdukadir Hussein said there had been dozens of people in the restaurant when the attack took place.
“Many of the people inside were wounded and I personally saw the … dead bodies of two people,” he said. “The whole area was in a mess as the blast destroyed everything.”
Another witness, shopkeeper Mohamed Ali, told Reuters news agency police opened fire after the blast went off. He said he could see huge clouds of smoke rising above the restaurant and ambulances trying to reach the site, in the city’s Hamar Jajab district near Mogadishu port.
Another witness, Mohamud Ahmed, said heavy rain had sent a lot of people into the restaurant to seek shelter.
“As I was sipping tea and looking down, [a] blast occurred. From there I don’t know what happened,” he told Reuters. His legs, hands and head had been hit by shrapnel from the explosion, which he said had also given him concussion.
The al-Shabab armed group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement carried by the SITE intelligence agency.
The al-Qaeda-linked group frequently carries out bombings and gun attacks on military and civilian targets, including at hotels, intersections and checkpoints, as part of its campaign to topple the country’s internationally recognised government.
Thousands of people have died in the fighting between the fighters and government forces.
At least 13 Somali soldiers were killed by al-Shabab in October near the district of Afgoye.
In August, 10 civilians and a police officer were killed in a gun-and-bomb attack by al-Shabab on an upscale beachfront hotel in the capital.