Al-Shabab gunmen attack airport in Somali capital

Gunfire rang out in the Somali capital as Islamic extremists attacked the international airport on Wednesday, injuring at least three police officers

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Gunfire rang out in the Somali capital on Wednesday as Islamic extremists attacked the international airport, injuring at least three police officers.

Somali security forces repelled the assault, killing two armed assailants, Somali Police Commissioner General Abdi Hassan Hijar told the Somali National News Agency.

The attackers, armed with pistols and grenades, were “pretending” to be airport workers when they launched the attack, he said.

The two gunmen tried to force their way into a military base at the airport but were thwarted, Somali police spokesman Major Abdifitah Adan told state media. Three police officers were injured, he said.

Al-Shabab, Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels, claimed responsibility for the attack inside Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle International Airport, saying its fighters were trying to invade a compound that houses several diplomatic missions.

A thick cloud of black smoke rose into the sky after a stray bullet hit a fuel tank near a checkpoint where al-Shabaab fighters exchanged fire with security personnel, eyewitness Awil Abdi told AP.

All domestic and international flights have been suspended due to the attack, according to a statement from the airport authorities.

Al-Shabab frequently stages deadly attacks in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia. The rebels are fighting to impose strict Sharia law in Somalia and oppose the federal government in Mogadishu and the presence of foreign peacekeepers in the Horn of Africa nation.