Ambulance workers stand by near the Lido beach where gunmen exploded a car bomb and opened fire at a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia on Thursday. Picture: EPA
Ambulance workers stand by near the Lido beach where gunmen exploded a car bomb and opened fire at a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia on Thursday. Picture: EPA

MOGADISHU — At least 17 people were killed when Islamist gunmen struck a popular beachside restaurant in the Somali capital of Mogadishu late on Thursday, Somali police said.

Al-Shabaab, a militant group aligned with al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack.

It said its members set off two car bombs at the Beach View Cafe on Mogadishu’s popular Lido beach, and engaged in a gun battle for hours with government troops trying to flush them out.

Capt Mohamed Aloley of the Mogadishu police said security forces ended the siege by at least five gunmen, which began at about 7pm on Thursday and ended at about 5.30am on Friday.

The bodies of the dead were scattered across the scene of the attack on the Lido Seafood Restaurant and the Beach View Hotel.

Some reports put the death toll at 25.

"Five gunmen were involved in the attack," Capt Aloley said. "They shot and killed indiscriminately.

"Security forces managed to get inside to get rid of the attackers. Those who were fighting inside were killed by the soldiers."

Reuters, Bloomberg