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Suicide car bomb explodes at checkpoint in Mogadishu

A suicide car bomb exploded on Thursday at a checkpoint near Somalia's national theater in the capital Mogadishu, killing the bomber, police said.

There was no immediate word on whether anybody else was killed or injured in the blast, which witnesses said had been followed by gunfire. The national theater stands about 500 meters (yards) away from the presidential palace.

"The bomber blew up the car after police ordered him to stop at gun point. We are investigating," Abdikadir Hussein, a police officer, told Reuters.

The explosion also destroyed the front wall of a nearby restaurant, he added.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but al Shabaab militants have been trying to disrupt Somalia's protracted parliamentary elections - part of efforts to rebuild the fractured nation after decades of war. The three-month vote is due to end on Dec. 29.

Al Shabaab also wants to drive out African Union peacekeepers, topple Somalia's Western-backed government and impose its strict version of Islam on the Horn of Africa state.

Source: National News Agency