February 17, 2012 / 1:18 PM / in 6 years

UPDATE 1-Car bomb hits police office in Somali capital

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MOGADISHU, Feb 17 (Reuters) - A car bomb exploded next to a police department building in the Somali capital on Friday, wounding two police officers, the latest in a wave of attacks in Mogadishu.

Police said they had arrested the driver of a car suspected of carrying explosives, and while officers were waiting outside the criminal investigations department for bomb disposal experts, the explosives detonated.

“We had seized this car earlier in the morning and detained the driver, who is alive and under arrest,” said Mohamed Ali, a police officer.

“It went off prematurely as we were waiting for bomb experts to come and disarm the car.”

The blast ripped off the gate to the police department and shattered the windows of buildings nearby. The explosion set ablaze cars parked in the compound, residents said.

The criminal investigations department is located near other government offices in central Mogadishu.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Suspicion is likely to fall on the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels, who have been fighting the government since 2007.

The militants have intensified the frequency of attacks in Mogadishu since withdrawing from most of their bases in the capital in August. (Reporting by Mohamed Ahmed; Writing by James Macharia)

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