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Deaths reported as bombers target Mogadishu restaurant

Mogadishu has been hit by two suicide bombings, a week after hopes were raised by the election of a new Somali president. Witnesses say 14 were killed in a restaurant opposite the capital city's National Theater.

During Thursday's attack two suicide bombers targeted the Village Restaurant, an eatery frequented by Somali politicians and journalists and run by a Somali businessman who returned home recently from Britain.

The attack came despite long-running efforts by a 11,000-strong African Union (AU) force to evict the Islamist rebel group, al Shabaab, from swathes of Somalia. The AU force known as AMISON largely pushed the militants from Mogadishu last year.

Last week's election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud by Somalia's new parliament was hailed by his supporters as a breakthrough after more than two decades of failed government.

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was overwhelmingly elected by lawmakers on Monday, 9 September, 2012. Photo: REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Somalia's new President Mohamud has a tough job ahead

Mohamud took office last Sunday, after escaping an assassination attempt outside the venue of a news conference on Wednesday, last week.

His auguration ended a succession of United Nations-backed transition governments since 2004.

Showdown in Kismayu?

Meanwhile, the news agency Reuters said on Thursday that the rebels facing advancing Kenyan-led AU units were gathering in their last bastion, Somalia's port city of Kismayu.

It quoted residents as saying the al Qaeda-linked insurgents were building defenses. Kismayu, Somalia's second biggest city, lies 500 kilometers (311 miles) south of Mogadishu.

A statement from the AU force urged militants to lay down their arms. A rebel radio station in Kismayu said the rebels' defenses were strong and businesses remained open.

Al Shabaab had long controlled parts of southern and central Somalia, while pirates and local militias also vie for localities in the north.

ipj/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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