Somalia blasts hit Mogadishu's Village restaurant

BBC World Service Africa Editor Richard Hamilton: ''Ordinary people in Mogadishu are very scared''

Explosions at a popular restaurant near the parliament building in Somalia's capital Mogadishu have killed 15 people, police say.

The blasts hit The Village around lunchtime. The restaurant is popular with government workers and journalists and has been targeted before.

Somalia is battling the Islamist-led insurgency and high levels of crime.

The Islamist al-Shabab group claimed responsibility for the attacks, which tore off much of the restaurant's roof.

"Successful operations carried out in Mogadishu's Hamarweyne district," said al-Shabab on its Somali-language Twitter feed, referring to the area in which The Village is located.

Double attack

The restaurant - near the presidential palace - was busy at the time of the attacks.

Local reports suggest a car bomb was detonated outside the restaurant, and that a suicide bomber then blew himself up among the crowd that gathered at the scene.

Earlier reports wrongly suggested a nearby hotel was also targeted.

The Village, about 1km (0.6 miles) from the presidential palace, is not within the city's security zone but is popular with journalists and those in political circles.

Run by Somali businessman Ahmed Jama, who returned to the country from the UK in 2008, it was targeted by two suicide bombers last September in attacks that killed 14 people.

Map

One of many expatriates to go home to help rebuild their war-ravaged country, Mr Jama vowed he would not give up after that attack.

"My decision was to do something and as long as I live, I will continue - I'm a business guy with restaurants and I'm going to continue with that," he told the BBC at the time.

Since the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has seen clan-based warlords, Islamist militants and its neighbours all battling for control.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office a year ago in a UN-backed bid to end two decades of violence.

Although the al-Shabab Islamist group was pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011, they have frequently staged attacks in the city since then.

The group still controls large swathes of southern and central Somalia.

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