By Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar
MOGADISHU – Al Shabaab Islamist militants attacked a government building housing two ministries in the Somali capital on Tuesday, setting off two big blasts before gunmen stormed inside, killing at least 10 people, police and the Islamist rebels.
Fighting was still raging around the building, which houses the ministries for higher education and petroleum and minerals.
It is the latest in a series of raids in Mogadishu by al Shabaab, which wants to topple Somalia’s Western-backed government and impose its own strict version of Islamic law.
The group also attacked a university campus in neighbouring Kenya this month, killing 148 people.
“First two blasts occurred, a bike blast and a car blast, outside the building, then armed fighters stormed in,” Major Ali Nur, a police officer, told Reuters.
About an hour and a half after the explosions, police said they had secured the building.
Al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu confirmed that the group was behind the attack.
Government spokesman Ridwaan Haji said on his official Twitter account that 10 people had been killed in the attack, including two soldiers and eight civilians. He said seven militants had also been killed.