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40 die as Mogadishu fighting erupts

At least 40 civilians have been killed and more than 130 wounded in the Somalian capital of Mogadishu in fighting between insurgents and African Union-backed government troops.

Ali Muse, the head of the city's ambulance service, said fighting resumed in the southern and northern parts of the capital as mortars and tank fire pounded parts of the city.

Fighting started on Monday evening when Somalia's most powerful militia, an Islamist group, declared war against "the invaders" - the 6,000 African Union soldiers deployed in Mogadishu.

Meanwhile, officials later said a suicide bomber and a gunman stormed a hotel in Mogadishu reportedly killing eight people.

A spokesman for the African Union, Maj Barigye Bahoku, confirmed the suicide attack and said security forces were searching for another gunman.

Bashir Khalif, a journalist for the government-run Radio Mogadishu, said that he had seen eight dead bodies including several members of parliament.

Somalia has not had a central government since 1991.

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