Somalia : Massive blast rocks Mogadishu near airport

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At least 12 people have been killed after a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a security checkpoint near Mogadishu’s international airport, police in the capital said.

Captain Mohamed Hussein told Associated Press news agency on Monday that the blast took place as security forces were searching cars at the checkpoint, a few hundred metres from the main base of the African Union peacekeeping mission.

The checkpoint is close to United Nations offices and the Peace Hotel, which is often frequented by foreigners and officials. The blast blew roofs off nearby buildings.

Abdur Razak Tuurare, a Mogadishu-based journalist, said the blast had destroyed most of the hotel.

Witnesses said a second explosion and heavy gunfire could be heard at the checkpoint after the attack.

Mogadishu’s Mustaqbal Radio tweeted that the armed group al-Shabab had claimed responsibility for the bombing.

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Somalia’s capital has seen frequent bomb attacks at hotels and military checkpoints, with al-Shabab often claiming responsibility.

The attacks have threatened this Horn of Africa nation’s attempts to rebuild from at least two decades of conflict.

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