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Death toll rises as heavy shelling rocks Mogadishu

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Deadly fighting in Somali capital
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • At least 26 civilians killed, 71 wounded
  • Clashes erupted Wednesday between government forces and Islamist militants
  • Witness: Shelling has been "vicious," more lethal

(CNN) -- At least 26 civilians have been killed in heavy fighting in Mogadishu, Somalia, according to the spokesman for a local ambulance group.

Ali Muse described the situation in the Somali capital as "heart-breaking." He told CNN that his workers collected 15 bodies in a building where people had run to escape heavy shelling.

Muse also told CNN that some 71 people have been wounded.

He said artillery fire has been "vicious" and more lethal than it has been previously. Most of the shelling, according to Muse, has been centered around Mogadishu's second-largest market, Suq Ba'ad. It's in a neighborhood controlled by the al Qaeda-linked militant group Al Shabaab.

At least five people were killed and eight wounded in heavy shelling Wednesday that began after clashes between Islamists and government forces erupted in two parts of the city.

Journalist Mohamed Amiin Adow contributed to this report