MOGADISHU (Reuters) - At least four civilians were killed in the Somali capital on Monday when Islamist militants opened fire on government officials in a car and then a car bomb exploded, police and a spokesman for Mogadishu's mayor said.
A spokesman for the al Shabaab group claimed responsibility. He told Reuters that several members of the security forces, rather than civilians, had been killed.
The group's accounts of attacks often differ markedly from official reports. It regularly launches assaults in the capital, seeking to topple the Western-backed government.
"We shot dead one of the militants who killed four civilians with an explosion and shooting in Mogadishu," police Major Nur Osman told Reuters, saying the security forces had prevented the car bomb doing more damage.
The mayor's spokesman, Abdifatah Omar, said the first three civilians were killed when the militants attacked a government vehicle.
The militants then fled their pursuers and their vehicle, packed with explosives, was detonated remotely, killing a fourth civilian, Omar said. Two militants escaped while one was shot dead, he said.
(Reporting by Abdirahman Hussein, Feisal Omar and Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Dominic Evans)