Africa

Suicide bomber kills at least 17 people at Somali police academy

An Islamic extremist suicide bomber disguised as a police officer killed a number of them after infiltrating a police academy in Mogadishu, Somalia. Source: AAP

A suicide bomber in police uniform has blown himself up inside a police training camp in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, killing at least 17 police officers

A Somalia police officer says the death toll has risen to 17 in a suicide bombing at a police academy in the capital Mogadishu.

Colonel Mohamud Aden said that at least 20 other police officers were wounded in the attack, some of them seriously.

The bomber, disguised as a police officer with hidden explosives strapped around his waist and torso, infiltrated Gen. Kahiye Police Academy and targeted officers gathering for special morning exercises, Captain Mohamed Hussein said. The officers were rehearsing for Somalia's Police Day celebrations scheduled for December 20.

The bomber walked into the police academy undetected and joined a long line of officers in the rehearsal parade before he detonated the explosives under his sportswear.

Police officer Farah Omar who was at the scene at the time of the blast said the bomber targeted a spot where dozens of soldiers had gathered.

"He wanted to inflict a maximum damage," said Omar.

The Somalia-based al-Shabab extremist group quickly claimed responsibility for the attack. Al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaeda, carries out frequent bombings and attacks against hotels, checkpoints and other high-profile areas of Mogadishu.

Al-Shabab has been blamed for the massive truck bombing in the capital in October that left 512 dead. Only a few attacks since 9/11 have killed more people.

Al-Shabab has become the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa and is increasingly targeted by the U.S. military after the Trump administration early this year approved expanded airstrikes and other efforts against the fighters.