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Militants bomb popular beach in Somalia 'killing 20'

DEVASTATION: Somalis walk past the wreckage of vehicles outside a beachfront restaurant following an overnight attack of the restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. Somalia's security forces ended a deadly siege of a beachfront restaurant in the capital, with many killed in the attack, a police official said today (Jan 22)

MILITANTS KILLED at least 19 people when five gunmen detonated a bomb before storming a popular seaside restaurant in the Somali capital Mogadishu, police said today (Jan 22).

"They killed nearly 20 people, including women and children," Somali police officer Mohamed Abdirahman said, describing it as a "barbaric and brutal attack against innocent civilians".

Al-Shabab said it was behind the attack. The group has carried out frequent assaults on Mogadishu.

After a huge explosion, gunmen burst into the restaurant yesterday evening (Jan 21) as diners were sitting down for their evening meal.

Troops then besieged the attackers at the restaurant for eight hours. It was not immediately clear how many of the militants were killed or captured.

The Somali authorities said the leader of the attack had been arrested.

Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke condemned the killings as "barbaric".

“I unreservedly condemn the barbaric attack @ Liido. My thoughts and prayers ate with the victims #Somalia.”

The Lido beach area in Mogadishu is busy with restaurants, including upmarket establishments popular with business people and diaspora Somali who have returned home to the city.

It attracts thousands of mostly young Somalis who come to relax and enjoy the beach and the surf.

Al-Shabaab, which is fighting to overthrow the internationally backed government in Mogadishu, carries 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.

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