In Somalia, five people have died after Al Shabaab militants attacked multiple police stations and security checkpoints in the capital Mogadishu, a show of force as the nation prepares for a much-delayed presidential election.
State TV reported that the victims, two of them children, were killed in two attacks on Wednesday, one at the police station in the Kahda district and another in the Darasalam district.
The al Qaeda-linked militants carry out frequent attacks against the government and last week attacked a minibus carrying election delegates.
The group’s spokesman, Abdiasis Abu Musab, said fighters hit government targets in four districts in the capital and another area on the outskirts. He said the militants overran government bases and seized military vehicles and weapons.
Internal security minister Abdullahi Nor wrote on Twitter early on Wednesday: “The terrorists attacked the suburbs of Mogadishu and targeted our police stations and checkpoints. Our security defeated the enemy.”
Casualties from the attacks, which occurred just before 1 a.m. (2200 GMT), were unclear.
A Reuters witness who visited the scene of an attack on the Kahda police station said the building was destroyed, along with nearby houses. Local resident Halima Faragh said the explosions sounded like an earthquake and said she and her family fled their home in fear.
The latest attack came as indirect parliamentary elections are held. Elections for lawmakers began on 1 November and were initially supposed to end on 24 December, but are currently due to be completed on 25 February.
Somalia’s indirect electoral process calls for regional councils to choose a senate. Delegates include clan elders who pick members of the lower house, which would then choose a new president at a date yet to be fixed.