MOGADISHU, Somalia -- A bomb ripped through a popular seafood restaurant on Saturday at a beach that is perhaps the greatest symbol of Mogadishu's recent renaissance, with witnesses and the police reporting that a Somali soldier had been killed and up to three other people wounded.
The restaurant, Lido Seafood, is one of many that have recently opened to serve lobster and fresh fish to the Somalis who flock to Lido Beach on weekends, trying to recapture the leisure time denied them for years. Witnesses said the bomb was stashed in a car and activated by remote control.
"As I was having lunch, suddenly the building shook at once," said one witness, Osman Jimale, who was relaxing at the beach on Saturday. "I thought it was an earthquake."
Lido Beach, a strip of gorgeous white sand trimmed by azure waters, has been a magnet for Somalis returning from abroad after fleeing violence and for families looking for a place to take their children. On the weekends, it is packed with sharply dressed businessmen, girls in veils splashing in the water and vendors carting ice cream and slices of watermelon up and down the beach in wheelbarrows. Occasionally, a few sunburned Europeans or Americans (usually aid workers or journalists) can be seen paddling in the waves.
The attack on Saturday was the first major one at Lido Beach, though other leisure sites, like a popular sports bar and the National Theater, have been hit in the past year. In a statement, the Somali prime minister's office blamed unidentified terrorists for the bombing, but the most likely culprit is the Shabab militant group, a franchise of Al Qaeda in Somalia that used to control large swathes of territory and that has been responsible for many attacks on civilians after being pushed back in recent months.
With the Shabab in retreat, the security of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, has been improving. People drive to dinner under solar-powered streetlamps, unthinkable just a few years ago in a city that reverberated with gunfire.
Somalia descended into chaos in 1991, when clan warlords overthrew the government and carved the country into fiefs. Much of Somalia is still controlled by clan-based militias, but in the past year and a half, African Union peacekeepers have brought a modicum of peace and stability to Mogadishu, and a nascent government is now trying to deliver some services and gain the people's support.
Mohammed Ibrahim reported from Mogadishu, and Jeffrey Gettleman from Nairobi, Kenya.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.