Mogadishu: Somalia's Al Shebab rebels carried out a major car bomb and gun attack against an intelligence headquarters in central Mogadishu on Sunday, leaving at least seven militants and four others dead.
The Al Qaeda-linked militia claimed responsibility for the raid, which also houses a major detention facility, saying it was being used for the "torture and humiliation" of "innocent Muslims".
The coordinated attack also came a day after Somalia's national army and African Union forces said they had captured an Al Shebab stronghold as part of a joint offensive aimed at seizing key ports and cutting off a key source of revenue for the extremist rebels.
In Sunday's attack, police and witnesses said a car bomb was detonated outside the National Intelligence Centre and was followed by a raid by gunmen disguised in national army uniforms—a method of attack already used several times this year by the Shebab.
"There were seven attackers. One of them blew himself in the car while the six others were killed by the security forces," interior ministry spokesman Mohamed Yusuf told reporters, adding that three members of the security forces and a civilian were also killed.
"The attack is over now and the attackers have failed to achieve their goal aimed at interrupting the Indian Ocean operation," he said, referring to the current AU and government ground offensive.
Al Shebab's military spokesman, Abdulaziz Abu Musab, claimed the militants had killed 15 members of the security forces.
"Our courageous Mujahideen in Mogadishu succeeded in attacking the notorious Jila'ow prison, controlled by the apostate intelligence services."