Somalia: Battle in northern Mogadishu kills eight
The Western-backed government troops and the hardline rebels have for months been locked in a military see-saw which sees some strategic locations in the Somali capital change hands with every offensive and counter-offensive.
"We took control of several key positions including the main central police station," Sheikh Ali Mohamed Hussein, an official with the Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab group, told reporters.
A government security official admitted to retreating following the fresh Shebab offensive but denied that the militants had made any significant gains.
"There was no big advance from the terrorists. They attacked our positions near the 'Global' (hotel) area, our forces retreated from some barracks but it was a military tactic and we still control the area," Mohamed Gacal told AFP.
"We killed three of them and lost two of our own in the fighting, which is still ongoing," he added.
Witnesses in the disputed Shibis neighbourhood said that three civilians were killed during the latest round of clashes between the government and the insurgents.
Residents also confirmed that the Shebab had taken over a large building that has recently been used by the government as a police and army base.
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