Al Shabab suicide car bomber detonated at checkpoint near Islamic school
Children among dead in Mogadishu bombing
At least six people were killed, including two children, after a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle outside a district headquarters in Somalia's capital on Sunday.
The Somali extremist group Al Shabab said it was behind the bombing, which also blew off the roof of a mosque and damaged houses nearby.
The bomber tried to speed through a checkpoint but was stopped by security forces, prompting him to detonate the vehicle near the gate of the Howlwadag district headquarters, Police Capt Mohamed Hussein said.
The three soldiers who stopped the truck were killed instantly and the three others killed were civilians, said the Mogadishu mayor's spokesman, Salah Hassan Omar.
Fourteen people, including six children, need intensive care, said the Aamin Ambulance service. Among the wounded was deputy district commissioner Ibrah Hassan Matan.
Many victims were students at a nearby Islamic school. Officials warned there could be more casualties as the blast brought down nearby buildings including the mosque.
"I saw bodies strewn on the ground after the explosion before the ambulances and the paramedics reached the scene and the whole scene was very ugly," said Halima Mohamed, a witness.
The attacker "literally failed to achieve their goal of inflicting maximum casualties", said Capt Hussein .
Al Shabab is fighting to unseat a western-backed government protected by African Union peacekeepers. The Al Qaeda-affiliated group regularly targets the Somali capital with bombings, including a truck bombing in October that left at least 512 people dead.
Somali troops are meant to take over the Horn of Africa nation's security from the AU force in the coming years but concerns remain about their readiness. The UN Security Council recently voted to postpone the reduction of AU troops in Somalia from October to February next year, and moved the target date to hand over security to Somali forces to December 2021.