AL-SHABAAB Islamist militants attacked a government building in the Somali capital yesterday, setting off two large blasts before gunmen stormed inside, killing at least 10 people, police and the rebels have said.

Fighting was still raging around the building, which houses the ministries for higher education and petroleum and minerals.

It is the latest in a series of raids in Mogadishu by al-Shabaab, which wants to topple Somalia’s Western-backed government and impose its own strict version of Islamic law.

The group also attacked a university campus in neighbouring Kenya this month, killing 148 people.

“First two blasts occurred, a bike blast and a car blast, outside the building, then armed fighters stormed in,” Major Ali Nur, a police officer, said.

About an hour and a half after the explosions, police said they had secured the building.

Al-Shabaab’s military operations spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu confirmed that the group was behind the attack.

Government spokesman Ridwaan Haji said on his official Twitter account that 10 people had been killed in the attack, including two soldiers and eight civilians. He said seven militants had also been killed.

Police Colonel Hussein Ibrahim said one of the soldiers was with the African Union peacekeeping force, which has led a campaign against al-Shabaab with Somali troops and also guards major government buildings.

“Now the fighting is over and the building is secured,” Ibrahim said.

The government spokesman could not immediately confirm the death of the AU soldier.

Trader Omar Mohamed, who works near the scene, said he was thrown off his chair by the blasts.

Al-Shabaab, which once ruled much of Somalia, lost control of Mogadishu in 2011 and has since been driven out of its remaining major strongholds in a joint AU-Somalia military offensive that was launched last year.