Africa

Somalia jihadists al-Shabab launch Mogadishu attack

Somali soldiers stand next to the site where Al Shebab militants carried out a suicide attack against a military intelligence base in Mogadishu 21 June 2015 Image copyright AFP / getty images
Image caption A suicide car bomb signalled the beginning of the attack

The Somali jihadist group al-Shabab has carried out an attack in the country's capital Mogadishu.

A suicide car bomber and gunmen attacked a training centre for the national intelligence agency on Sunday morning.

Government officials said that soldiers "foiled the attack" and at least three militants died.

The militants have vowed to intensify attacks during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began on Wednesday.

Al-Shabab claims to have killed several intelligence officers inside the building, something the government denies.

After the suicide bomb was detonated outside the training centre, gunmen reportedly stormed a civilian house that they had mistaken for the government facility.

Interior ministry spokesman Mohamed Yusuf said security forces had successfully repulsed the attackers.

"They were trying to storm the premises but they have been taken out before they reached their objective. There was no casualty on our side," he told reporters.

Bodies of al-Shabab militants were shown to the media.

Witnesses described how the fighting started.

"There was a heavy explosion and in seconds heavy gunfire broke out. We cannot go outside the house because of the shooting," local resident Abdulahi Yare told the AFP news agency.

Security in the country has improved but al-Shabab still attacks Mogadishu regularly. The group has targeted the intelligence headquarters before.

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Media captionAl-Shabab: A defector's story

Various armed groups have been battling for control of Somalia since the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991.

In April, al-Shabab militants launched an assault across the border in Kenya on a university in the north-eastern town of Garissa.

The attack killed 148 people in what was the deadliest ever attack by the group.