Blast at Somali capital restaurant, heavy gunfire: police
A car bomb exploded at a popular seaside restaurant in the Somali capital Thursday, with intense gunfire following the blast, police said.
The casualty toll was not immediately known.
"There was a car bomb explosion at a restaurant at the Lido beach," police officer Ahmed Bidan said, reporting "shooting and gunfire" immediately after the blast. Later calm returned to the area.
The Lido beach area in Mogadishu is busy with restaurants, including upmarket establishments popular with business people and diaspora Somalis who have returned home to the city.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents have carried out a string of similar bombings in the past.
The Shebab, who are fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu, carry out regular attacks in the capital.
The Islamists are on a mission to disprove claims they are close to defeat since being routed from Mogadishu in mid-2011 and losing several alleged commanders to US drone strikes.
Last week the insurgents stormed a Kenyan army base in southwest Somalia, in the latest incident of an AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base being overrun by the militants.
A Shebab statement said that more than 100 Kenyan soldiers based at the mission were killed and others captured.
Kenya has so far declined to say how many of its soldiers were killed, injured or remain missing.