A car bomb has killed at least 11 people, and injured another 16, when it exploded at a police checkpoint next to a busy market in the Somali capital, police and witnesses have said.
Witnesses saw several bodies at the scene of the blast, near the vegetable market in Mogadishu’s Waberi district on Saturday, where shops and stalls were wrecked and ambulances raced away with casualties.
“The whole market is ruined and people perished. The death toll is sure to rise,” Colonel Abdikadir Farah, a police officer, told Reuters news agency.
Medical sources told the AFP news agency the death toll could be as high as 30.
“There was chaos and severed dead bodies strewn around the street. The market was so busy with people shopping, when the blast ripped through the area. I saw many dead bodies, but I could not count; I have helped collect more than 10 of them,” said Abdulahi Osman, who witnessed the blast.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but immediate suspicion fell on the Al-Qaeda-linked group, al-Shabab, which is locked in battle against the Somali government and which regularly mounts attacks in the city.
Its most deadly recent attack was in August, when a car bomb outside a popular hotel close to the presidential palace left 15 dead.
Somalia is still seeks to rebuild after more than two decades of conflict and chaos.
It is holding a vote at polling centres across the country, over several weeks, for a new parliament.
Some 14,000 people representing Somalia’s federal states have been chosen to pick the 275 legislators. Those members of parliament will choose a new president.
The government, UN officials and international donors have said security issues prevented a broader vote.
The parliamentary vote was due to end on November 30, after several delays, but an official said it was now likely to last until mid-December.