MOGADISHU (AFP) — At least seven policemen were killed when insurgents ambushed a Somali police station in the capital, sparking deadly clashes, witnesses and officials said Friday.
The incident occurred late Thursday in Daynile, one of the most volatile districts in southern Mogadishu.
"The terrorists ambushed a police station, killing seven policemen and wounding five others," police officer Mohamed Hashi Ali told AFP.
Witnesses said insurgents used machine guns and grenades when they ambushed the police station.
"The insurgents were chanting 'Allahu Akbar' -- God is great -- and fired RPGs before storming the station where they exchanged machine gun fire with the police. I saw seven of them lying dead after the fighting," said Mohamed Wardiyow, a witness.
Shebab fighters, the radical wing of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), claimed responsibility, saying they had killed nine policemen.
The fighters "attacked a police station in Daynile district killing nine of them. The attack occured in the late afternoon and the fighters used heavy machine guns and RPGs," rocket-propelled grenades, said a statement posted on their website.
The African Union has deployed some 2,600 peacekeepers in Somalia -- short of the pledged 8,000 troops -- but they have failed to stem violence.
Since their ouster early last year by joint Ethiopian and Somali forces, the Islamists have waged a guerilla war, which according to international rights groups and aid agencies has left at least 6,000 civilians dead and displaced hundreds of thousands.
An uninterrupted civil war has plagued Somalia since the 1991 overthrow of president Mohamed Siad Barre, defying numerous peace initiatives and truce deals.
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