MOGADISHU - Five people, including three civilians, were killed in a gun battle in Somalia on Monday after al-Shabab militants opened fire on a checkpoint in the capital Mogadishu, officials said.
Al-Qaida-linked Shabab fighters have been fighting for more than a decade to topple the government. They have lost many strongholds since 2011, but still control of large parts of rural Somalia, from where they launch guerrilla attacks.
“Two al-Shabab gunmen attacked the security checkpoint and exchanged fire with the security forces,” said Mohamed Adan, a security official in Mogadishu.
“The two gunmen had been killed, but two of the security forces and three civilians also died during the fighting.”
Suleyman Moalim, a witness who was near the checkpoint in the Hodan district, said the attackers were in Somali military uniform when they approached.
“They started opening fire and the police at the checkpoint returned heavy fire, it continues for about a few minutes,” he said.
Al-Shabab in a statement claimed responsibility for the attack, saying two of its fighters had been killed when they overran the checkpoint.
Security officials said earlier they had intercepted an explosive-filled vehicle in the same district.
Al-Shabab were driven out of Mogadishu by government forces backed by a 20,000-strong African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in 2011. But they still carry out attacks including suicide bombings against government targets.