Gunmen attack Mogadishu court, killing at least 19

Cars burn on April 14, 2013, in Mogadishu, after a suicide bomber attack in the regional court premises that left several dead. (AFP)

A suicide raid on Mogadishu’s court complex left 14 dead Sunday, including nine attackers, while an almost simultaneous car bomb blast killed five in one of the Somali capital’s worst days of violence in months, police and witnesses said.

In the first attack, gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed the main court complex in Mogadishu. Five civilians were killed, six attackers blew themselves up and three others were shot down.

The attack on the country’s Supreme Court complex began at around 12:30 p.m. and running battles with police and army forces lasted at least 90 minutes. Two bomb blasts were heard and gunmen were seen on a court building roof firing shots, an Associated Press reporter at the scene said.

The gunmen took hostages in the main courtroom and forced their way into other rooms in the complex, said a police officer, Abdinasir Nor.

The armed men forced their way inside the complex and immediately set off an explosion, said Yusuf Abdi, who was near the court when the attack happened Sunday. A government spokesman, Mohamed Yusuf, confirmed the attack and said security forces had responded and were battling the militants.

Mogadishu’s main government center is heavily guarded with multiple security checks. However, the security at the court complex is not nearly as strong.

Most militant attacks in Mogadishu are blamed on fighters of al-Shabab, the al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremist rebel group in Somalia.

Last Update: Sunday, 14 April 2013 KSA 18:55 - GMT 15:55