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16 dead after blast outside restaurant in Somalia’s capital

Medics carry away the dead body of a woman killed after a blast outside a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia, Thursday, March 28, 2019. A Somali police officer says an explosives-laden vehicle has detonated outside a restaurant in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — An explosives-laden vehicle detonated outside a busy restaurant in Somalia’s capital, killing at least 16 people, police said Thursday.

Capt. Mohamed Hussein told The Associated Press that the blast occurred as the restaurant in Mogadishu’s Waberi district was crowded with diners.

At least 17 other people were wounded, Col. Mohamed Hassan said.

The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group claimed responsibility. The group often targets high-profile areas in Mogadishu with suicide bombings. Those often include security checkpoints, hotels and government offices.

The extremist group was chased out of the capital several years ago but continues to hold large parts of rural southern and central Somalia, taxing local people and travelers to fund its deadly quest to establish an Islamic state. It has thousands of fighters.

The United States military has dramatically increased the number of deadly airstrikes against al-Shabab since President Donald Trump took office. The U.S. is one of a number of actors fighting al-Shabab, including a multinational African Union force, Somali forces and Kenyan troops.

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