Suicide bombers hit Somali capital, three dead - witnesses

MOGADISHU Sat Nov 3, 2012 6:04pm GMT

Somali policemen mill around the scene of a suicide attack in capital Mogadishu November 3, 2012. REUTERS/Omar Faruk

Somali policemen mill around the scene of a suicide attack in capital Mogadishu November 3, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Omar Faruk

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MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Two suicide bombers attacked a restaurant in the Somali capital on Saturday, killing a security guard who stopped them entering the building, locals said.

It was not clear who was behind the bombings but Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgents have conducted similar previous attacks and remain a serious security challenge even after being forced out of their strongholds.

The blasts rocked the restaurant, popular with Somalis returning from abroad in the hope that the country's darkest days are over, damaging cars and scattering the area with body parts.

"Two suicide bombers opened fire at guards at the gate and as soon as they entered two successive blasts took place," Mogadishu resident Farah Hussein told Reuters.

"I cannot go in but I see three dead people in front of the gate. The guards fought the bombers and denied them access. The bombers blew themselves up at the gate," Hussein said.

A Reuters witness saw the two bombers' bodies and that of a guard.

Al Shabaab was driven out of Mogadishu late last year and is struggling to hold territory elsewhere, under attack from Kenyan, Ethiopian and African Union forces trying to prevent Islamist militancy spreading from Somalia.

But the insurgents are still capable of striking inside the capital.

In September, al Shabaab suicide bombers attacked a hotel where President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was giving a news conference alongside the visiting Kenyan foreign minister. Both were unhurt but eight people died.

Saturday's attack took place some 5 km (3 miles) from the presidential palace where, earlier in the day, Mohamud hosted the European Union's special envoy for Somalia, Michele Cervone d'Urso.

(Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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