MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — An assault by gunmen on the offices of Somali's education ministry on Tuesday left 17 people dead, including seven attackers, a government spokesman said.
Police later secured the Ministry of Higher Education office complex, said Capt. Mohamed Hussein, a senior police officer. The fatalities included eight civilians and two soldiers, said government spokesman Ridwan Haji Abdiweli.
The Somali-based al-Shabab extremist group later claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity.
The attackers stormed the education ministry's offices after a suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle at the gate of the complex, opening the way for gunmen to enter, said Hussein.
The assault on the walled compound, which also houses other government ministries, is the latest by the Islamic extremists of al-Shabab, who have launched a series of attacks in the capital on government targets and the African Union forces who support the government.
Smoke was seen rising over the compound and security forces rushed to the scene and ambulances ferried wounded victims to hospitals.
This is not the first time al-Shabab has attacked the government's education ministry. A suicide car bomber detonated a truck at the offices in 2011, killing at least 70, mostly students who were applying for scholarships to study in Turkey.
Al-Shabab often accuses the ministry of westernizing Somalia's education system.