Somali Islamists car bomb kills 17 in Mogadishu

Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:11pm GMT

By Abdi Sheikh and Ibrahim Mohamed

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A suicide car bomb by rebels who profess loyalty to al Qaeda killed at least 17 people near a police training camp in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Monday, and police forecast the death toll would rise.

Al Shabaab, which claimed responsibility for the attack, has waged a three-year insurgency to topple the U.N.-backed interim government they consider a stooge of the West, restricting its writ to just a few blocks of Mogadishu.

Western spy agencies say the Horn of Africa country has become a haven for foreign jihadists, while critics have accused the government of not doing enough to end the insurgency.

Somali al Shabaab rebels claimed responsibility for bombs in Uganda that killed scores of people in July.

"Today we carried out a blessed car bomb attack at the so-called police camp," al Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage told reporters. "This is a warning to our enemies and a pleasure for us."

Police, who had earlier said they suspected al Shabaab in the hit, said civilian casualties were high in the early morning strike on a busy main road that was aimed at Seredi, the police training camp about 500 metres (1,650 feet) from Mogadishu port.

"We cannot get the exact number of dead now. We are busy collecting flesh, and people are shocked here," Hassan Ali, a police officer, told Reuters.

There were likely to be more casualties since fragments of the bomb, shrapnel and wrecked car parts were flung across the road and into various buildings and houses, police said.   Continued...

<p>Ambulance workers remove a wounded man after a suicide bomber killed at least 12 people near a police training camp in the capital Mogadishu, February 21, 2011. just a few blocks of Mogadishu. REUTERS/Feisal Omar</p>
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