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19 die in raid on Somali police station

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Al Qaeda-linked militants detonated a car bomb Tuesday at the entrance to a police station near the Somalia-Ethiopia border, then opened fire with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, an attack that left at least 19 people dead, officials said.

After the explosion the Islamic extremists opened fire at police officers and civilians inside the station, said Mahamat Saleh Annadif, a top African Union official. The police station housed Somali police as well as Djiboutian and Ethiopian troops.

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Colonel Osman Dubbad, the commander of the Djiboutian troops in the city of Beledweyne, said 10 attackers died, including two suicide bombers. Colonel Ismael Ali, a police officer in Beledweyne, said five soldiers and four civilians were killed by the car bomb blast.

The officials said that gunmen forced their way inside the police station, where an hourlong gun battle ensued. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a pro-militant website.

Al-Shabab also claimed responsibility for the September attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, that killed at least 67 people.

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