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At least 10 dead in attack on Somalia's parliament building

Security forces killed at least three of the militants, a Somali lawmaker said. FILE PHOTO

Saturday, May, 24, 2014

Mogadishu, Somalia (CNN) -- Al-Shabaab militants launched an attack Somalia's parliament headquarters Saturday, leaving at least 10 people dead and more than 11 others wounded, witnesses and officials said.

Members of the parliament were among those wounded after gunmen loyal to the al Qaeda-affiliated terror group stormed the facility in Mogadishu, according to witnesses and official accounts.

Fighters used automatic rifles, heavy machine guns and explosives in an attack that lasted more than three hours, witnesses said.

Mohamed Madale, a police spokesman, said security forces later secured the building after the fighters blew themselves up. He said the security forces killed several fighters during the attack.

Dahir Mohamed, a police officer who witnessed the attack, said the attackers used a car filled with explosives to get into the parliament building, and killed some of the Somali forces guarding the building on their way in.

Smoke and flames could be seen pouring from the building as ambulances pulled up to attend to the wounded lying on the ground. People took cover as security forces moved in, exchanging gunfire with the attackers. Some members of parliament were evacuated from the building.

Ali Osman, an ambulance worker at the scene, told CNN that he collected 10 bodies, including those of Somali forces, civil servants and civilians who were caught in the crossfire during attack.

He also said more than 11 others, including members of the parliament were also wounded.

Al-Shabaab took responsibility for the attack. A spokesman, Abdul Aziz Abu Musab said on Radio Andalus, the group's radio network: "Their martyrdoms carried the attack on the parliament building and they killed what he called many of the apostate MPs."

Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed said in a statement, "The terrorists have once again shown that they are against all Somalis, by killing our innocent brothers and sisters. These cowardly, despicable actions are not a demonstration of the true Islamic faith."

Mohamed Omar, a lawmaker who was inside the parliament building, said that Al-Shabaab fighters wore military uniforms and "suicide belts." Security forces killed at least three of the militants, Omar said.

Osman Daallo, a member of parliament, said he saw two colleagues seriously, including a fellow MP "whose chest was gushing out from blood."

Mohamed Deyfalah, another MP, said the attack was the worst he has ever witnessed, and he had always believed parliament's heavy security presence would have prevented such an attack.

One of wounded MPs who asked to remain anonymous said, "Today's attack indicates the weakness of the government.

"Our government is still unable to deal with the terrorists and today's attack underscores a lack of efficient government."

Al-Shabaab's aim is to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state, though it has carried out attacks in other African countries as well. A prime example of the latter was last September's attack on Nairobi's Westgate Mall, which ended with at least 67 dead.

The group has increased the use of suicide attacks in recent years, though these have been somewhat rare in Somalia. It is believed that veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are believed to be helping train al-Shabaab fighters.

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