The Somali jihadist group al-Shabab has launched a major attack in the country’s capital Mogadishu.
A suicide bomb exploded near the national intelligence headquarters on Sunday morning. The sound of heavy gunfire was reported from the area.
Government officials say that they have “foiled the attack” and four militants are dead.
The militants have vowed to intensify attacks during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began on Wednesday.
Al-Shabab claims to have killed several intelligence officers inside the building, something the government denies.
Interior ministry spokesman Mohamed Yusuf said security forces had successfully repulsed the attackers.
“They were trying to storm the premises but they have been taken out before they reached their objective. There was no casualty on our side,” he told reporters.
Bodies of al-Shabab militants were shown to the media.
Witnesses reported a loud explosion signalling the start of the fighting.
“There was a heavy explosion and in seconds heavy gunfire broke out. We cannot go outside the house because of the shooting,” local resident Abdulahi Yare told the AFP news agency.
Security in the country has improved but al-Shabab still attacks Mogadishu regularly. The group has targeted the intelligence headquarters before.