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Car bomb in Somali capital kills at least 30

Mogadishu: A car bomb exploded at a busy security checkpoint in Somalia's capital Saturday morning, killing at least 30 people, a government spokesman said.

The toll was likely to rise as more than 60 wounded people were being rushed to hospitals, Ismail Mukhtar told The Associated Press. It was one of the deadliest attacks in Mogadishu in recent memory.

Capt Mohamed Hussein said the blast targeted a tax collection centre during the morning rush hour as Somalia returned to work after its weekend.

Children were among the wounded. Also among them were several university students who had been traveling in a bus, Hussein said. Photos from the scene showed the mangled frames of vehicles.

A large black plume of smoke rose above the capital.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. The 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 seaside city.

Al-Shabab was blamed for a devastating truck bombing in Mogadishu in October 2017 that killed more than 500 people. 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 airstrikes 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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