Somali soldiers gather near the destroyed restaurant in Mogadishu, Sept, 7, 2013.
Somali soldiers gather near the destroyed restaurant in Mogadishu, Sept, 7, 2013.
NAIROBI - Somali officials say at least 18 people were killed and a dozen others wounded when a car full of explosives blew up outside a restaurant in Mogadishu. The Village restaurant is popular with government officials, workers and journalists.

The attack Saturday at The Village restaurant in central Mogadishu was the second time the business has been targeted in less than 12 months.

Investigators say a car bomb exploded near the busy restaurant where customers were having lunch and, minutes later, a suicide bomber detonated explosives at the site.
A police commander, Mohamed Dahir, says the attack was huge and many people have lost their lives.

“As you can see we have collected so many dead bodies here and injured people, so far 18 people have died and we have many injuries we will give exact figures when we get them,” he said.

The restaurant, owned by a British-Somali businessman, is popular with university students, politicians and journalists.

The same restaurant was also attacked in September 2012 and more than 15 people were killed, including journalists.

The Islamist militant group al-Shabab said it carried out the attack because the business was being used as a base for foreign and local intelligence. The militant group has carried out such deadly attacks in the capital, targeting government facilities, African Union troops and public gathering places.

Despite losing ground to a concerted military operation by regional forces, militants have continued to launch sporadic attacks.  In June, more than 15 people were killed when al-Shabab fighters stormed the U.N. compound in Mogadishu.

Al-Shabab still controls towns and villages in southern Somalia, while the new government is working to strengthen national institutions weakened after two decades of civil war.