MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Suspected Islamic militants attacked the headquarters of Somalia’s South Western State government in Baidoa, killing at least four government soldiers and two civilians, a Somali official said Thursday.
Three of the gunmen were also killed in the morning attack, said local administration official Ahmed Mohammed.
“They were running and shouting God is great,” Mohamed told The Associated Press by phone from Baidoa. Mohammed said two civilians believed to have been trying to steal the attackers’ car died after it was detonated by remote control.
Two explosions went off at the gate of the headquarters of South Western State followed by gunmen shooting their way onto the premises, said Capt. Hassan Hussein, a police official in Baidoa.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but it bares the hallmarks of the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab.
Ten people died last month at the Central Hotel in Somalia’s capital when an al-Shabab extremist rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the hotel gate, and another went in and blew himself up.
South Western State was formed in November 2014 to become the fourth federal state in Somalia and is led by the former Somali Parliamentary Speaker Shariff Hassan Sheikh Aden.
Despite major setbacks in 2014, al-Shabab continues to wage a deadly insurgency against Somalia’s government and remains a threat in Somalia and the East African region. The group has carried out many attacks in Somalia and in neighboring countries, including Kenya, whose armies are part of the African Union troops bolstering Somalia’s weak U.N.- backed government.
Al-Shabab controlled much of Mogadishu during the years 2007 to 2011, but was pushed out of Somalia’s capital and other major cities by African Union forces.