At least 10 people have been killed in a car bomb attack in a crowded market in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, police say.
The huge blast occurred at a police checkpoint next to a busy vegetable market in Waberi district on Saturday, wrecking the shops and stalls and wounding at least a dozen people, police official Ibrahim Mohamed said.
He further said the death toll could increase since the car went off at a time when the market was densely populated. Most of the wounded sustained serious injuries, the police official said.
Abdukadir Abdirahman Adem, the director of Amin Ambulance Service (AAS), raised the death toll to nearly 30 people, but the figure has not been confirmed by authorities.
According to police official Captain Mohamed Hussein, the assailant apparently targeted the police station in a neighborhood where President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was visiting a university at the time.
“The whole market is ruined and people perished,” said Colonel Abdikadir Farah, describing the deadly attack.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bears the hallmark of those carried out by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab Takfiri terrorist group, which has conducted a series of deadly attacks in the African country over the past ten years in an attempt to weaken the government.
The group has been pushed out of Mogadishu and other major cities by the joint forces of the government and the African Union, but it continues to hit Mogadishu despite setbacks.
Al-Shabab currently controls swaths of rural areas, from where it carries out guerrilla attacks.
On August 26, over a dozen people were killed in a car bombing outside a popular hotel close to the presidential palace in the capital. The group claimed the assault.
Somalia has not seen a powerful central government since former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled by warlords in 1991. Since 2007, some 22,000 peacekeepers have been deployed in Somalia in the multi-national African Union force to aid the government in curbing the militancy.