Gunmen posing as military forces were holding an unknown number of hostages inside a popular restaurant in Somalia's capital at dawn Thursday after an attack that began when a car bomb exploded at the gate, police say. The extremist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility. At least 17 people, including foreigners, have been killed according to police and an ambulance driver. Two of the gunmen were shot dead and 10 hostages were rescued but five other attackers were thought to remain inside, cutting off electricity to complicate security forces' efforts to end the siege, Capt. Mohamed Hussein says.
The roofs were blown off the Pizza House restaurant and nearby buildings from the powerful blasts. An ambulance driver with the Amin Ambulance service, Khalif Dahir, said early Thursday they had carried 17 bodies and 26 wounded people. Police said the dead included a Syrian man. Most of the victims were young men who had been entering the Pizza House when the vehicle exploded, Hussein says. The gunmen "were dressed in military uniforms. They forced those fleeing the site to go inside" the restaurant, witness Nur Yasin tells the AP. (Read more Somalia stories.)