JOHANNESBURG – Gunmen wearing suicide vests attacked Mogadishu’s main courthouse Sunday in one of two attacks in Somalia that were linked to an al-Qaida-affiliated group.
About nine gunmen in Somali police uniforms stormed the court building, firing shots and taking hostages. The attack triggered gunbattles with security forces that lasted several hours and left more than a dozen people dead, apparently including all of the assailants.
Al-Shabab, the violent militia affiliated with al-Qaida that opposes the Somali government, later claimed responsibility for the attack.
Several hours later, a suicide car bomber detonated a blast near the headquarters of Somali intelligence on the road to the city’s airport as an African Union convoy passed, carrying Turkish aid workers and AU forces. Al-Shabab also claimed responsibility for the second attack. The extent of casualties was not immediately clear.
Security in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, has improved in the last two years, after al-Shabab abandoned the city in August 2011 and subsequently lost control of its major strongholds in the south. But the militia has continued to launch guerrilla attacks on government installations, cafes, restaurants and other targets, often killing civilians in the attacks. Last month at least 10 people died in a suicide car bombing.
Court was in session when the attack took place.