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'Three killed' in twin blasts at Somali beach restaurant

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

At least three people were killed and several wounded in twin attacks at a restaurant on the popular beachfront of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, witnesses and police said Friday.

The blasts, the latest in a string of attacks in the war-ravaged city, were reportedly caused by a suicide attacker wearing a vest packed with explosives, followed by a car bomb.

"The man blew himself up when guards at the restaurant entrance tried to stop him... at least three people including the bomber died," said Hersi Adan, a security official who was near the scene of the attack.

"A few minutes later a car parked outside of the building exploded killing another and wounding seven."

The explosion took place close to Mogadishu's famous Lido beach, which is usually crowded on weekends with families enjoying the beach, playing football or swimming in the Indian Ocean waves.

"The restaurant was busy... I saw the dead bodies of four including the bomber," said Muhudin Hassan, a witness.

Mohammed Abdullahi, a businessman who was inside the restaurant when the attack took place, said he saw the bodies of two security guards and at least nine other people were wounded.

"Many people who were wounded ran away after the explosion, so more might have been injured," he added.

One person was killed in a similar car bomb blast in the area last month.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, but Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents have launched a series of guerrilla-style attacks in Mogadishu in recent months.

The insurgents have vowed to topple President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who took office in September after being chosen by the country's new parliament.

But the once powerful Shebab are on the back foot inside Somalia, having fled a string of key towns ahead of a 17,000-strong African Union force, which is also fighting alongside Somali soldiers.

However, the Shebab remain a potent threat, still controlling rural areas as well as carrying out guerrilla attacks in areas apparently under government control.

Some, retreating ahead of AU-led assaults, have relocated to the northern Golis mountains in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130301/three-killed-twin-blasts-at-somali-beach-restaurant