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Shabab militants attack security base in Somali capital

The Somali Islamist group al-Shabab has carried out a raid on a military intelligence base in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. A firefight claimed a number of casualties.

The al-Shabab fighters first set off a car bomb outside the base before storming inside in Sunday's attack, security officials said.

Witnesses near the compound, which is also used for training by the government's National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), said there was an explosion followed by a heavy exchange of gunfire.

Somalia's Interior Ministry said at least three militants were killed in the fighting, but that no security forces died.

This contrasts with claims by a spokesman for al-Shabab, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, who told Reuters news agency that "many" intelligence agents had been killed.

NISA said in a short statement that the attack had been thwarted by security forces and that no buildings or bases had been entered.

Fraught security situation

Al-Shabab aims to topple the Western-backed government in Mogadishu. The group has in the past stepped up attacks during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began on Wednesday.

On Saturday, eight officers were killed in another attack by the group near the capital.

Somalia has remained in a state of instability sinde the hardline regime of Siad Barre collapsed in 1991. A deployment of some 22,000 African Union soldiers is in the country to support the new government.

tj/bw (Reuters, AFP)

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