|Suicide bombers kill 15 in Somali capital|
|Thursday, 20 September 2012 14:15|
Two suicide bombers walked into a restaurant in central Mogadishu and killed at least 15 people, witnesses said on Thursday, a week after militants targeted the country's new president in a bomb attack.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. However, suspicions will fall on the Islamist militant group al Shabaab which has carried out a campaign of suicide bombings since it withdrew from the capital last year under military pressure.
"So far we have confirmed 15 dead people including two local journalists and two policemen," General Abdullahi Barise, police spokesman and head of the criminal investigation department, told Reuters.
"We are still counting the wounded. They were rushed to various hospitals."
After the blasts, a Reuters photographer said he saw several bodies as well as the severed heads of the two bombers. Pools of blood covered the floor of the Village restaurant.
It is owned by a well-known Somali businessman, Ahmed Jama, who returned to his home country from London to set up business against the advice of some friends.
"My relatives whom I created jobs for have perished. My customers have perished. All innocent people. I cannot count them, their dead bodies are before me," a distraught Jama told Reuters.
The election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud last week was hailed by his supporters as a vote for change in a country mired in conflict for more than two decades.
Just two days after his election, suicide bombers attacked a hotel where the president was giving a news conference, killing eight people.
These attacks underscore the security challenges faced by the political newcomer as African forces battle to quash a five-year insurgency waged by al Shabaab.
Expelled from a string of cities, cut off from revenue sources and struggling for its survival, al Shabaab this week fell back on its last bastion in the southern port city of Kismayu, where there could be a military showdown with African forces.
Defeat in Kismayu, a hub of al Shabaab operations throughout its insurgency, would badly hurt the rebels' morale and weaken their capacity as a fighting force.
However, it might not deliver the knockout blow sought by Mogadishu and its regional allies, and western diplomats expect the militants to turn increasingly to guerrilla tactics.
The capital is one of few areas in the country under the control of the central government with help from thousands of African peacekeepers.