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22 Killed in al-Shabab Attack on Somali Police

Security forces attend to the scene following a car bomb attack in Beledweyne, Somalia, Nov. 19, 2013.
Twenty-two people were killed Tuesday when Islamist militants attacked a police station in central Somalia.

Militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack in the town of Beledweyne. Ahmed Mohamed Khalif, the director of the Beledweyne Hospital, said that at least 17 others were wounded in the attack.

Witnesses said a car driven by the militants exploded outside the police station entrance. A group of four gunmen then stormed the building and began shooting. Pro-government forces soon surrounded the facility, sparking a firefight that lasted several hours.

Officials said all of the attackers as well as a number of police officers and civilians were killed during the incident.

In a statement, al-Shabab said it had killed both Somali and Djiboutian soldiers.

Djibouti is one of the countries that contributes troops to the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud condemned the attack as "self-defeating," saying his government was determined to bring peace and stability to Somalia.

Beledweyne lies near the country's border with Ethiopia and at a major road linking the capital to the north and south of the country.

Al-Shabab said it was behind a bombing at a cafe in the same town last month that killed at least 15 people.