Police: Three dead in attack on African troops in Mogadishu

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At least three people were killed Friday when a car bomb targeting a convoy of African Union troops exploded on a major street in the Somali capital, police said.

“So far three persons are confirmed dead, and three others injured,” said police official Ahmed Muktar, who was near the scene of the blast, the latest in a string of explosions in the dangerous capital.

“It was a huge explosion, buildings all around were rocked by the blast,” said Hussein Gure, a witness who was driving nearby when the car exploded.

“There were several people killed or wounded,” he added.

It was not immediately clear if the casualties reported were civilians or from the AU force.

Some reports said the car had been parked when it exploded, others said it was driven by a suicide bomber who rammed into the armored AU convoy, part of regular patrols carried out by the 17,700-strong force in the country.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents have carried out a series of bombings, attacks and killings aimed to overthrow the internationally-backed government.

In previous years, the month of Ramadan -- which began this week -- has seen a surge in Shebab attacks, with gunmen urged to carry out deeds by their extremist preachers.

Despite recent infighting inside the Shebab -- including the recent killing of top leaders in a bloody purge -- analysts warn the extremist group is far from defeated.

The Shebab have lost a string of towns to the AU force, which fights alongside government soldiers.

However, key Shebab strongholds remaining include rural southern and central Somalia, while another faction has dug into remote and rugged mountains in the northern Puntland region.

In Mogadishu, Shebab suicide commandos carried out a brazen daylight attack last month on a fortified United Nations compound, while on Tuesday they claimed responsibility for an attack in the main Bakara market, killing one.