West News Wire: According to police and witnesses, there were at least five casualties from a blast that occurred close to the mayor’s office in Mogadishu, Somalia.

According to witnesses, Sunday’s massive explosion caused damage to surrounding buildings.

Police officer Abdullahi Mohamed reported that “terrorists blew a car loaded with explosives onto a perimeter wall of the Mogadishu mall which is near to the Banadir government headquarters.”

Director of Aamin Ambulance Services Abdikadir Abdirahman told the Reuters news agency that ambulance personnel took five injured persons away from the blast site.

In a heavily secured neighborhood of Mogadishu, the local government building houses the mayor’s office.

“We were in the office and we were deafened by a blast, we ran out, gunfire followed,” Farah Abdullahi, who works in the mayor’s office, told Reuters.

Security forces immediately put the area under lockdown but an exchange of gunfire between the army and the assailants was ongoing, an intelligence officer who only gave his name as Ahmed, told Reuters.

Roads in the area have concrete barriers and multiple roadblocks. The building is about one and a half kilometres away from Villa Somalia, the president’s office.

Al Shabaab frequently carries out bombings and gun assaults on targets in Mogadishu and across the country.

Al Shabaab has stepped up attacks in recent months in a show of resilience after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s government launched an offensive against the al Qaeda-allied fighters last August.

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