Somalia: Blasts heard as Gunmen storm building housing two ministries
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Two deafening car bomb explosions occurred at a complex housing Somalia's ministries of Labour and Public works in Mogadishu, the Somali capital on Saturday morning, Garowe Online reports.
Sustained Gunfire could be heard amid reports that a number of people, mostly government workers and officials, were trapped in the building on what had been a normal business day.
The al-Shabab extremist group claimed responsibility for the ongoing attack in Mogadishu as security forces were battling at least five gunmen inside the compound located near Jubba junction, police said.
Heavily armed militants are believed to be holed up inside the compound which is close to the presidential palace and the headquarters of the Intelligence agency, a police officer, told Garowe Online.
Al Shabaab, which is fighting to oust the weak UN-backed Somalia's Federal Government, said one of its fighters had rammed the ministry building with a car bomb, allowing others to enter it and seize control.
Graphic pictures of the scene showed Some office workers climbing out of windows.
Ambulance sirens echoed across the area amid ongoing efforts to rescue those trapped in the building who were taken hostage by the attackers fighting off the security forces.
Plumes of white smoke were seen rising from the building as Somali security forces gathered outside, exchanging gunfire with the attackers to free trapped civil servants.
It is not yet clear the exact number of the casualties from the car bombs and gun attack, but, hospitals were said to be struggling to cope with many victims.
The latest attack in Mogadishu comes as units of Somali armed forces are leaving the frontlines against Al-Shabaab in Shabelle-Middle regions over lack of pay.