The al Shabaab-claimed attack killed nine people and wounded ten others. Three attackers were also killed by security forces.

Destroyed vehicles are seen at the scene of a suicide car bombing near Somalia's presidential palace in Mogadishu, Somalia on July 7, 2018.
Destroyed vehicles are seen at the scene of a suicide car bombing near Somalia's presidential palace in Mogadishu, Somalia on July 7, 2018. ( Reuters )

At least nine people were killed in an attack on Somalia's interior ministry and security forces killed all three attackers after a two-hour gun battle inside, police said Saturday, as the al Shabaab extremist group claimed responsibility.

A number of people, mostly government workers, had been trapped in the ministry on what had been a normal business day. 

Witnesses said some staffers died or were injured while leaping from windows or walls in an effort to escape.

More than 10 people were wounded and the death toll could rise, Col  Ahmed Mohamed said.

The attack began in the morning when a suicide car bomber detonated at the gates of the interior ministry compound, which is close to the presidential palace and parliament headquarters and also holds the security ministry, police Capt. Mohamed Hussein said.

Dozens of people eventually were rescued in the operation, Hussein said, as ambulance sirens echoed and soldiers opened fire to disperse bystanders and motorists.

TRT World spoke to Omar Nor, who brings the latest details from the capital Mogadishu.

Militant group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack. The claim could not be independently verified.

Al Shabaab frequently carries out bombings in the Horn of Africa country where they are fighting to topple the central government. 

The group wants to topple the Western-backed central government, expel the African Union-mandated peace keeping force AMISOM and establish their own government.

Somalia has been gripped by violence and lawlessness since the toppling of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in the early 1990s.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies