At least eight soldiers were killed and 14 others wounded after a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at the gates of a military base in Somalia's capital on Saturday.
Soldiers opened fire after the explosion that sent clouds of smoke into the sky, said Halima Abdisalan, a mother of three who lives near the area."We ran indoors in fear," she told the Reuters news agency. "Soon I could see a military pickup speeding and carrying many soldiers covered with blood. I do not know if they were all dead or injured."
Captain Mohamed Hussein said the death toll is expected to rise.
Ahmed Muse, a police colonel, told The Associated Press news agency the bomber struck the 12th April Army Brigade base near the newly reopened sports stadium in Mogadishu's Warta-Nabadda district.
Witnesses said ambulance sirens could be heard as police cordoned off the scene. Huge clouds of smoke billowed from the scene of the blast.
Army officer Major Abdullahi Mohamud said it was an attack. "It must be a suicide car bomb, I am now transporting casualties," he said.
Claiming responsibility, the group's military operations spokesman, Abdiasis Abu Musab, said: "We conducted a successful martyrdom operation on a major apostate military base in Mogadishu."
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The al-Qaeda-linked armed group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack.
"The enemy suffered many casualties and wounded, military vehicles destroyed."