Somali militants kill 15 at restaurant

Two big explosions rock popular dining spot in Mogadishu

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NAIROBI, Kenya --Militants set off two large explosions Saturday at a popular restaurant in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, killing at least 15 people and wounding about two dozen, according to Somali and U.N. officials.

The attack underscored the fragility of Somalia's political environment, even as both the United States and the Somali government have sought to portray the Horn of Africa nation as having entered a new, more stable era after more than two decades of chaos and lawlessness.

The blasts ripped off much of the roof of the Village restaurant -- an eatery frequented by government employees, journalists and students and about a half mile from the presidential palace and the National Theatre -- according to news reports. Local media said a car bomb detonated first, and as people gathered at the scene, a suicide bomber then blew himself up.

"They attack the restaurants because they hate to see people peacefully spending time together," Mohamed Abdi, an Interior Ministry employee at the scene of the attack, told the Associated Press.

"They are committed to obliterating any sign of peace. Because of such attacks, it's very hard for the government to restore security in the near future."

Somalia's al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militia, which has waged a deadly insurgency even after being pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011 by African Union forces, asserted responsibility for the attack.

"Government officials, military forces, workers and their security always meet here," an al-Shabab spokesman, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, told Reuters. "We had targeted it even before today, and we shall continue targeting it."