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More than 60 Killed After Car Bomb Explodes At Busy Checkpoint In Somalia

A truck bomb has exploded at a busy security checkpoint in Somalia's capital, killing at least 61 people.

The death toll is likely to rise as more than 60 wounded people are being rushed to hospitals on Saturday, Ismail Mukhtar told The Associated Press.

It was one of the deadliest attacks in Mogadishu in recent memory.

Medical personnel carry a civilian who was wounded in suicide car bomb attack at check point in Mogadishu, Somalia (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsame)

Captain Mohamed Hussein said the blast targeted a tax collection centre during the morning rush hour as Somalia returned to work after its weekend.

Children were among the wounded. Also among them were several university students who had been travelling in a bus, Hussein said. Photos from the scene showed the mangled frames of vehicles.

A large black plume of smoke rose above the capital.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab often carries out such attacks.

A civilian who was wounded in suicide car bomb attack is helped at check point in Mogadishu, Somalia (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsame)

The extremist group was pushed out of Mogadishu several years ago but continues to target high-profile areas such as checkpoints and hotels in the seaside city.

The attack again raises concern about the readiness of Somali forces to take over responsibility for the Horn of Africa country's security in the coming months from an African Union force.

Al-Shabab, the target of a growing number of US airstrikes since President Donald Trump took office, controls parts of Somalia's southern and central regions. It funds itself with a "taxation" system that experts describe as extortion of businesses and travellers that brings in millions of dollars a year.