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10 die in Shabaab Mogadishu raid

Fighting rages around govt building

Soldiers inspect the wreckage caused by a car bomb that was detonated at the gates of a government office complex in Mogadishu. (AP)

Mogadishu, April 14 (Reuters): Al Shabaab Islamist militants attacked a government building housing two ministries in the Somali capital today, setting off two big blasts before gunmen stormed inside, killing at least 10 people, police and the rebels said.

Fighting had raged around the building, which houses the ministries for higher education and petroleum and minerals, before security forces retook it from the attackers.

It is the latest in a series of raids in Mogadishu by al Shabaab, which wants to topple Somalia's western-backed government and impose its own strict version of Islamic law.

The group also attacked a university campus in neighbouring Kenya this month, killing 148 people.

"First two blasts occurred, a bike blast and a car blast, outside the building, then armed fighters stormed in," Major Ali Nur, a police officer, told Reuters.

About an hour and a half after the explosions, police said they had secured the building.

Al Shabaab's military operations spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu confirmed that the group was behind the attack.

Government spokesman Ridwaan Haji said on his official Twitter account that 10 people had been killed in the attack, including two soldiers and eight civilians. He said seven militants had also been killed.

Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Mogadishu ambulances, told Reuters at least 15 civilians had been killed and 20 others injured.

Police Col Hussein Ibrahim said one of the soldiers was with the African Union peacekeeping force, which has led a military campaign against al Shabaab with Somali troops and also guards major government buildings and installations.

"Now the fighting is over and the building is secured," Ibrahim said.

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