Al Shabaab stormed a Somali government building in Mogadishu on Saturday, with at least four people killed and dozens others feared to be trapped inside.
One of the jihadists rammed the gates of the Ministry of Labour with a suicide car bomb, allowing others to enter.
A large explosion shook the centre of the Somali capital in the latest bombing by Al Shabaab, which is fighting to establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of sharia law, as the group blasted its way into the building.
“Al Shabaab stormed the building where two ministries including the ministry of labour work. So far we know four people are dead but (the) death toll is sure to rise,” Major Abdullahi Nur, a police officer told Reuters.
Eleven people were injured, Dr Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Amin Ambulance Service told Reuters, adding some were still trapped inside the building and that it was not possible to rescue them because of an ongoing gun battle.
Nur said people were being rescued with a ladder from the upper floors and that an exchange of gunfire was still going on.
Saturday is a working day in Somalia.
Al Shabaab, which is trying to topple Somalia’s western backed central government, was ejected from Mogadishu in 2011 and has since been driven from most of its other strongholds.
But it remains a threat, with its fighters frequently carrying out bombings in Somalia and neighbouring Kenya, whose troops form part of the African Union mandated peacekeeping force Amisom that helps defend Somalia’s central government.
-Additional reporting by Abdulkadir Khalif.