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26 die in Somali Parl attack

world Updated: May 17, 2010 13:11 IST

At least 26 people have died in the Somali capital Mogadishu after insurgents attacked the parliament building, an official said on Monday.

Islamist insurgent group al-Shabaab, which is battling to topple the weak Western-backed government, shelled parliament as lawmakers met for the first time this year Sunday.

African Union peacekeepers protecting the lawmakers responded by firing back into Bakara Market, an Islamist stronghold.

"It was one of the deadliest shellings, because we discovered 26 dead bodies in few hours and dozen others wounded," Ali Muse, head of Mogadishu's ambulance service, told DPA.

Many Somali members of parliament live abroad - a significant number in Nairobi, the capital of neighbouring Kenya - due to safety concerns.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.