Somalia suicide bombing hits Mogadishu - 14 killed

Debris in Village restaurant after bombing, 20 Sep 12 Bomb scene: The Village restaurant was a popular haunt of journalists

Two suicide bombers have blown themselves up in a restaurant in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, killing at least 14 people, officials say.

The attack - not yet claimed by any group - took place in the city centre, near the presidential palace.

The dead included the former editor of Somali National TV, Liban Ali Nur, two other journalists and two policemen.

Somali government troops say they are advancing on the port of Kismayo, held by the Islamist group al-Shabab.

The Islamist militants were pushed out of Mogadishu last year, but they have frequently staged attacks in the city since then.

The UN refugee agency has reported a sudden spike in the number of civilians fleeing Kismayo, from a few dozen to more than 1,000 a day.

Although al-Shabab has lost ground recently, it still controls large swathes of southern and central Somalia.

Thursday's double suicide bombing at the Village restaurant is the second attack since a new president was sworn in last week.

The Village is run by Somalis who recently returned from the UK.

Reports say one bomber blew himself up inside, then the second let off his device when crowds gathered near the restaurant.

At the scene

The cafe, about 1km (0.6 miles) from the presidential palace, is not within the security zone but is popular with journalists and those in political circles.

The attack happened at a time just before evening prayers when it is crowded with people, meeting up to exchange gossip and the latest happenings in government over a tea or coffee.

Now the cafe, opened three years ago by a Somali businessman from the UK, is covered in blood. Body parts and two severed heads could be seen amongst the dead and injured.

It is a chilling reminder for Hassan Sheikh Mohamud 10 days into his presidency of the challenges he faces.

The distraught owner, Somali businessman Ahmed Jama, told Reuters news agency that "my relatives, whom I created jobs for, have perished.

"My customers have perished. All innocent people. I cannot count them, their dead bodies are before me."

The BBC's Ibrahim Aden in Mogadishu says he saw six bodies at the restaurant, which is opposite the national theatre. It is a popular haunt for civil servants and journalists, he says.

"There were many wounded, many of them with severe wounds," eyewitness Hassan Ibrahim Abdullahi told the AFP news agency.

Since the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has seen clan-based warlords, Islamist militants and its neighbours all battling for control.

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