17 Die in Attack on Somali Ministry of Education

A group of Alshabaab militants attacked Somalia’s ministry of higher education in Mogadishu leaving 17 people dead, officials say.

A suicide car bomber blew up his vehicle loaded with explosives at the gate of the ministry headquarters, then there was a bike blast outside the building, followed by a heavy gun fire.

A number of attackers armed with suicide vests, heavy and light weapons entered the compound.

Somali government spokesman Ridwan Abdiweli said a total of 17 people died in the attack.

Eight civilians, two soldiers, including one from the African Union Mission and seven Al-shabaab fighters also died.

Alshabaab, who have staged numerous attacks in Somalia and Kenya claimed responsibility for this attack.

Police colonel Hussein Ibrahim said one of the soldiers was with the African Union, which has been supporting Somali forces against Al-Shabaab.

“AU forces were always inside the building for protection, otherwise the situation would be worse. Now the fighting is over and the building is secured,” he said.

Radio Mogadishu reports cite that the ministry’s director-general, Ismail Yusuf, was among the injured.

It also said that the head of security at the ministry was among the dead.

The compound is also a base for the Ministry of Petroleum and resources.

Somalia’s US-trained Special Forces reached the scene moments later and managed to retake control of the ministry after exchanging gun-fire with the militants, rescuing dozens of people.

Omar Wardere is a Somali researcher, reporter and editor. He is a committee member of National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and member of Foreign Correspondents Association of East Africa.