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Beachfront district in Somali capital devastated by terror attack, officials say

By Doug G. Ware   |   Updated Jan. 21, 2016 at 5:25 PM

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Explosions and gunfire erupted at a Somali beach Thursday in what appears to be another deadly terror attack in the east African nation.

A car bomb exploded at the Lido Beach district in the capital of Mogadishu at about 7:30 p.m. local time Thursday, officials said. After the blast, multiple gunmen stormed the area and began shooting. Waterfront Restaurants and beach-goers found themselves caught in the middle of the chaos.

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A second car bomb detonated a short time later, news reports said.

"I was spending time with my friends including journalists, we saw bullets raining on us," Ali-Bashe Abdullahi Abdi, director of Mogadishu's Mustakbal Radio, was quoted by the BBC as saying. "A good number of people were seated around me, there was a wedding ceremony at the hall of the restaurant. We started running towards the door, but before I reached we heard a loud explosion.

"Bullets were flying all over the place. ... I personally saw three wounded people. I did not see those who have been harmed by the explosions. I think the car was parked near the main door of the restaurant."

Details on casualties were not immediately known, but some news reports said multiple people were killed in the attack.

Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke condemned the attack.

"I unreservedly condemn the barbaric attack at Lido. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims," he tweeted.

The al-Shabab terror group, which has been responsible for similar attacks in the past, claimed responsibility for Thursday's assault. The group has links to al Qaeda, authorities say.

Officials said the group was responsible for an attack on a military base in southern Somalia last week that killed several Kenyan soldiers.

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