MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A car bomb targeting a police station killed at least seven people in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Thursday, police said, and al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab said it was behind the attack, the second this week.
A Reuters witness saw bodies lying on the ground at the Waberi police station, near Maka al Mukarama road, the busiest street in Mogadishu. Cars were ruined and the building damaged.
"We carried seven dead people and 12 others injured from the scene," Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of the Amin ambulance service, told Reuters. Major Mohamed Hussein, a police officer, had earlier given a toll of four dead.
The blast came despite thousands of security personnel, including police, intelligence and military, being assigned to secure Mogadishu earlier this month.
On Tuesday, a car bomb attack on a government building in Mogadishu, also claimed by the al Shabaab militant group, killed at least 10 people.
"As you can see, the terrorists attacked the station which is now destroyed," Ahmed Mohamed, spokesman for the Mogadishu security forces told reporters at the scene.
Al Shabaab, which wants to force out African Union peacekeepers, oust the Western-backed government and impose its strict interpretation of Islam on Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attack.
It also gave a higher number for those killed. Its numbers often differ from those given by government officials.
Al Shabaab spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab said a suicide bomber rammed his car into the police station. "Eleven enemies in the station died and more were injured," he said.
Reporting by Feisal Omar and Abdirahman Hussein; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Janet Lawrence