Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab rebels claimed responsibility for Saturday’s bombing, the latest in a surge of attacks in Mogadishu during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan.
“A car loaded with explosives was intercepted near the parliament and it went off. There are casualties but we don’t have details so far,” police official Mohamed Idle said.
He confirmed a suicide bomber was in the car.
Police and witnesses at the scene said three police officers and the suicide bomber died in the blast.
“I saw the dead bodies of three police and the severed body parts of what looked like the suicide bomber under the wreckage of the detonated car. The police sealed off the area and all civilians were ordered to leave,” said eyewitness Ahmed Malin.
Several other witnesses said they saw ambulances taking away the wounded, most of them civilians collected from the scene of the explosion. Abdikarim Jirow, another witness, said around nine wounded persons have been carried out of the attack scene.
Al-Shabaab, who have carried out frequent attacks against the parliament and other centres of Somalia’s fragile, internationally-backed government, said they were responsible and vowed their attacks would continue.
“We killed more than a dozen so-called police members after sacrificial attack at the main entrance of parliament buildings,” Abdulaziz Abu Musab, military spokesman of the Shebab, said.
“We want to tell them that the MPs are not safe anywhere in Mogadishu. By the grace of Allah more attacks will come and continue.”
Last month, militants from the Shebab set off a car bomb at the gates of parliament and then stormed the building while MPs were meeting in an attack that left several dead.
At the time, an al-Shabaab spokesman described the parliament as a “military zone” and a legitimate target.
On Thursday, al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for shooting dead a lawmaker and his bodyguard. In April two other MPs were also assassinated in Mogadishu.