JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Militants attacked Mogadishu’s main courthouse Sunday in one of two attacks in Somalia that were linked to an Al Qaeda-affiliated group.
About nine gunmen wearing Somali police uniforms and suicide vests stormed the court building, firing shots and taking hostages. The attack triggered gun battles with security forces that lasted several hours and claimed more than a dozen deaths.
Al Shabab, the violent militia affiliated with Al Qaeda that opposes the Somali government, later claimed responsibility for the attack.
In the second attack, several hours later, a suicide car bomber detonated a blast near the headquarters of Somali intelligence on the road to the city’s airport as an African Union convoy passed, carrying Turkish aid workers and AU forces. Al Shabab also claimed responsibility for that attack. The extent of casualties in that attack was not immediately clear.
Security in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, has improved in the past two years, after Al Shabab abandoned the city in August 2011 and subsequently lost control of its major strongholds in the south. But the militia has continued to launch guerrilla attacks on government targets, cafes, restaurants and other targets, with civilians often killed in the attacks. Last month at least 10 people died in a suicide car bombing.