30 killed in car blast at Mogadishu check-point

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Mogadishu, Somalia attack

At least 30 people have been killed in a car bomb blast at a busy security check-point in Somalia’s capital.

Police captain Mohamed Hussein said the blast targeted a tax collection centre during the Saturday morning rush-hour in Mogadishu as Somalians returned to work after the weekend.

Government spokesman Ismail Mukhtar said the death toll is likely to increase further as more than 90 people were injured and taken to hospital.

Children are among the injured, as are a group of university students who had been travelling in a bus.

Photos from the scene showed the mangled frames of vehicles, with a large black plume of smoke rising into the sky above.

No group has yet said it was behind the blast.

Al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab often carries out such attacks. The extremist group was pushed out of Mogadishu several years ago but continues to target high-profile areas such as checkpoints and hotels in the city.

Al-Shabab was blamed for a devastating truck bombing in Mogadishu in October 2017 that killed more than 500 people, though the group never claimed responsibility for the blast.

The latest attack again raises concern about the readiness of Somali forces to take over responsibility for the Horn of Africa country’s security in the coming months from an African Union force.

Al-Shabab, the target of a growing number of US air strikes since President Donald Trump took office, controls parts of Somalia’s southern and central regions. It funds itself with a “taxation” system that experts describe as extortion of businesses and travellers that brings in millions of dollars a year.

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