Somali minister among 5 killed in Somalia attack

The Latest: Somali minister among 5 killed in Somalia attack

Somalia's al Shabaab stormed a government building on Saturday, detonating a suicide vehicle bomb in the heart of the capital Mogadishu with at least nine people, including an assistant minister, killed during an ensuing gun battle.

After an hours-long gunbattle, Somalia's security forces took back control of the building in Mogadishu on March 23 afternoon from at least five attackers who forced their way into the government building that houses the Ministries of Labour and Public Works, Police Capt. Mohamed Hussein told.

It was the latest bombing claimed by Al Shabaab, an Islamist group which is fighting to establish its own rule in Somalia, based on a strict interpretation of sharia law.

Deputy labour minister Saqar Ibrahim Abdala and several policemen were amongst those killed, officials said.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the ongoing attack, saying that its fighters were inside the building, which is located not far from the headquarters of the Somali intelligence agency.

"There were some other casualties including members of the police", he said, without elaborating.

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Al Shabaab told Reuters one of its fighters had rammed the ministry building with a auto bomb allowing others to enter.

Police say five gunmen are involved in the attack and that security forces are fighting to neutralize them.

In 2010 the Shabaab declared their allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

In 2013, a Al-Shabaab raid on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall left 67 dead in a siege that unfolded over four days. The following year, the group were chased out of Mogadishu by the 22,000-strong African Union peace-enforcement mission, AMISOM. That attack also began with a pair of vehicle bombs exploding in a popular area of Mogadishu where Somalis were relaxing at restaurants. "We shall give details later", Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al Shabaab's military operation spokesman told Reuters.

The group has carried out many deadly attacks in neighboring Kenya in retaliation over Kenya's deployment in 2011 of peacekeepers in Somalia.

Shortly after the assault began, Al-Shabaab issued a statement claiming credit.

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