Somali militants attacked a restaurant near Mogadishu's seat of government for the second time in less than a year Saturday, detonating two large blasts that killed at least 18 people and wounded nearly two dozen, an official said.
The force of the blasts appeared to tear much of the roof off the restaurant, which is frequented by government workers.
Police officials put the death toll at 18 and said at least 20 had been wounded. Some news agencies reported as many as 22 people killed. Early reports indicated that a car bomb blast and a suicide bomber attacked The Village eatery.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene said wounded people screaming in pain were being taken away by ambulance. Soldiers also fired in the air, apparently in an attempt to restore order. Dead bodies badly burned by the flames could be seen by frightened onlookers who had gathered.
Militants, most likely from the group al-Shabab, attacked The Village last November. That attack, though, was less severe; two suicide bombers detonated but the blast only killed one guard. Guards were reported to have opened fire on the attackers, which may have kept the death toll down.
African Union forces pushed the al-Qaeda-affiliated group al-Shabab out of Mogadishu in August 2011, but the rebels continue to carry out suicide attacks in the capital.
In the biggest attack so far this year, al-Shabab in June assaulted the main U.N. compound in the Somali capital, killing at least 22 people.
Somalia has a new elected government that has been in charge for about a year and is striving to rebuild itself after two decades of civil war and lawlessness triggered by the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991.