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Gunmen battled security forces in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Friday morning, hours after insurgents launched a vehicle bomb attack in a busy street that left at least five dead, police said.

The death toll from the attack, which began on Thursday evening, had risen to almost 30 on Friday as the special forces battled the insurgents. I and my colleague HM Dahir were sitting down in Maka Almukarama hotel.We first heard gunfire followed by a very demolishing blast The scene changed into darkness.Heavy smoke went high. I have just seen them in hospital, they are in a critical condition. Mohamed Hussein, a police officer, told Reuters on Friday.

The death toll from a auto bombing and clashes between security forces and gunmen near a hotel in Somalia's capital has risen to 29, police said on Friday. As usual, the statement identified everyone slain as "al-Shabaab fighters" but did not elaborate on who they were.

The attack on a hotel popular with government officials came days after USA forces in Somalia stepped up air strikes against the al Qaeda-linked group, which is fighting to dislodge a Western-backed government protected by African Union peacekeepers.

The attack is the latest in a long line of bombing and assaults claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked group. "The death toll may rise and rise", said Abdikadir Adem, the director of the privately-run Aamin ambulance service.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said Friday it has handed over a military training academy it has occupied for more than a decade to Somalia to help local forces enhance security in the country. "My husband lost his stomach and my brother suffered severe wounds to both arms", Halima Omar, a mother of three children told Reuters.

A number of civilians have been rescued from the building, reports say.

At least 25 people have been killed in fighting this week when al Shabaab captured three villages from the faction aligned to Islamic State, a military official from the semi-autonomous region of Puntland told Reuters. The Somali government responded with its counter-insurgency "Alpha Group", an elite rapid-response force trained by American special forces.

The stepped-up USA action comes at a time of renewed terror attacks by al-Shabab in Mogadishu, the country's capital. It announced 47 strikes a year ago in which scores of militants were killed, and two in January.


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