|Somalia's transitional government has been confined to a few blocks of the capital by fighters [EPA]
A suicide car bomb attack on a government security base in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, has killed at least eight people and wounded scores of others, a police official said.
The station targeted in Monday's attacks was being used as a training station for government troops.
Police said 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.
"At least six police officers were killed. Many others were wounded, the toll could be higher but I don't have more details," said Abdirahman Issa, a senior police official in the city.
He said a number of civilians in the area were also believed to have died in the explosion.
Issa said that the explosion was so powerful that human remains were scattered around the station, while thick smoke rose into the sky.
"If the car could have got deeper inside, there would be have been a big loss," he said.
Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage, the spokesman for al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was aimed at soldiers "who were being prepared to attack us."
Hassan Ali, a police officer, said police shot at a speeding vehicle hurtling towards the gates of the training camp, before the explosion shook the area, covering it in flames and smoke.
Somalia's government called the assault "a cowardly act".
Groups fighting the government have used suicide bombers in the past in an attempt to bring down the fragile government, which is supported by 8,000 African Union peacekeepers.
"The armed forces will not to be deterred by such acts of violence and they will continue all necessary measures for [the] elimination of extremism and terrorism from the country,'' Abdulkareem Jama, the information minister, said.
Jama said two children, aged 10 and 11, were among the dead.
The country's UN-backed transitional federal government's (TFG) is confined to a few blocks of Mogadishu.
According to Western security sources, al-Shabab, who have continually tried to break the TFG's final defences in the capital over the past two years, held a top-level meeting on February 10.
Ahmed Abdi Godane "Abu Zubayr", a senior al-Shabab leader, and other commanders of the movement were reported to have observed that their operations against the TFG and the African Union (AU) troops protecting it had achieved limited success in recent months.
They were said to have agreed to intensify their attacks in the coming weeks, but complained of a shortage of suicide volunteers and said that those who had been used recently had not performed their task to expected results, the sources said.
The rare meeting is believed to also have been attended by senior leaders Mukhtar Robow and Fuad Shangole, as well as Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, whose Hezb al-Islam movement merged with al-Shabab last year.
The two groups came together as they said it would help them concentrate on fighting the TFG and AU.