The vehicle bomb went off near the residence of appeals court chief judge Abshir Omar, and security forces stationed outside the judge's house fought off gunmen who tried to force their way inside, police officer Capt. Mohamed Hussein said. The explosion took place by the busy Makka Al-Mukarama road during the evening rush hour. I have just seen them in hospital, they are in a critical condition.
VOA's reporter on the scene says government security forces cordoned off the entire area and began collecting dead bodies, barring journalists from getting close to the building that was under siege.
Security sources said a truck carrying several barrels of explosives rammed on to the building, detonating the explosives before the gunmen sang in to action, with initial reports indicating that t it was the work of Al-Shabab fighters.
Somali officials said on Friday that those who had carried out the attack had been taken out in gun battles that continued into the morning with the al-Shabab, a group linked to al-Qaeda.
The death toll from an Al Shabaab suicide auto bombing at a Mogadishu hotel rose to 29 with 80 wounded, police said on Friday.
But the minister, Dahir Mohamud Gelle, did not say whether the operation by Somali special forces to dislodge the militants from the hotel had ended or whether the hostages had been freed.
But on Thursday in Mogadishu, an Al-Shabaab auto bomb exploded, killing at least 19 people.
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Hussein said the death toll could rise.
The United States military on Friday said it had killed 26 fighters with the al-Shabab extremist group with an airstrike in central Somalia, after a pair of strikes earlier this week killed 55. Many victims had horrific injuries - some had lost limbs, nurse Sadiya Yusuf at Daru Shifa hospital said - and hospitals were said to be struggling to cope with the number of causalities.
The United Nations mission in Somalia and others in the global community quickly condemned the ongoing attack, one of the worst in Mogadishu in months.
Al Shabaab's military spokesman said the group was still in control of the Hotel Maka Al-Mukarama, which is used by government officials and located on a street lined with hotels, shops and restaurants.
Somalia has been convulsed by lawlessness and violence since 1991 but has stabilised somewhat in recent years.
The movement and mobilization of a large portion of al-Shabab military attacks also were weakened by a dramatic increase in the number of US airstrikes.
The U.S. military is one of several security actors in Somalia, along with a multinational African Union mission and troops from Kenya and Ethiopia.