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AL SHABAAB KILL 33 IN MOGADISHU HOTEL RAID AND 6 MPs .

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Denzel Musumba

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At least 33 people were killed Tuesday when two men dressed in military uniforms stormed a hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, detonating explosives and killing themselves, officials said. Of the dead were six members of the Somali parliament, a government spokesman said. Three members of parliament were injured in the attack. Journalists said the attackers committed suicide after government security forces surrounded the Muna Hotel, located near the presidential palace. "Just before 11 a.m. two attackers, a gunman and a suicide bomber, gained access to a hotel in Mogadishu," according to Maj. Barigye Ba Hoku, spokesman for the African Union Mission in Somalia. The assault on the hotel came as the death toll rose from some of the fiercest fighting in Somalia's capital in months. An ambulance group reported having difficulty reaching the wounded, the director of that service has said. Pitched battles between government forces and Al Shabaab militiamen have escalated in Mogadishu this week, leaving injured residents literally caught in the crossfire. "There are 11 students trapped in a school right now," Ali Muse, head of Life Line Africa, a local Somali charity running the country's only private ambulance service, said Tuesday. "It is too dangerous for our ambulances to collect them." Muse said the gun battles were centered in Bakara Market, where many women live and hawk their goods to locals. The area is controlled by Al Shabaab. "Many women have been killed," Muse said, adding that it is a "very crowded area." On Monday, Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Dhere declared what he called the final phase of the militia's war against "invaders" -- a reference to African Union troops who are propping up the transitional government of Somalia under a peacekeeping mission known under the acronym AMISOM.

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