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Car bomb explosion hits Somalia capital, killing at least 76

A Somali police officer walks past a wreckage at the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia December 28, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

A massive car bomb explosion has hit a busy security checkpoint in Somalia capital, Mogadishu, killing at least 76 people and leaving dozens of others wounded.

Police said a truck bomb went off in a busy area prone to heavy traffic due to a security checkpoint and a taxation office on Saturday.

"The blast was devastating, and I could confirm more than 20 civilians killed, there were many more wounded, but the toll can be higher," said police officer Ibrahim Mohamed.

Later in the day an ambulance service official said the death toll had risen to 61.

A man, who had witnessed the blast, said all he “could see was scattered dead bodies... amid the blast and some of them burned beyond recognition."

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but the city is regularly struck by bombings carried out by al-Shabaab Takfiri militants.

The group was forced out of Mogadishu in 2011, but violence still rages in the region with militants still controlling parts of the countryside and even staging attacks in neighboring Kenya as well.

Every now and then, the group carries out deadly attacks against government, military, and civilian targets in the capital as well as regional towns.

It has fought successive Somali governments as well as neighboring governments in Kenya and Uganda.

Another Takfiri terrorist group beheaded at least 11 people and took two women captive in an attack on a convoy in Nigeria on Friday.

It released a video, in which a member of the group was seen saying, “We killed them as revenge for the killing of our leaders, including Abu Bakr al-Baghadi and [Daesh spokesman] Abul-Hasan al-Muhajir, according to a journalist who was first sent the video.

US President Donald Trump announced in October that Baghdadi had blown himself up and died "like a dog" after American forces trapped him inside a dead-end tunnel during a raid in Syria’s northwestern Idlib Province on October 27.

The US, however, did not show Baghdadi's remains and claimed they were dumped at sea within 24 hours of his death.

According to an annual report on terrorism, the US State Department said in October that operations of terrorist groups were on the rise in Africa.

In an effort to fight the new rise of terrorism in Africa, the US started building a $110 million drone base in Niger in 2016.

It has also deployed more than 7,000 troops across the continent.

In addition to the US, France – a former colonial power in the continent — is still trying to maintain power with its significant military presence there.

Currently, there are some 4,500 French troops in the Sahel region, alongside a 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in Mali.

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to provide “new force” to purportedly fight terrorists in Africa, as he paid a visit to Ivory Coast.

Earlier this month, President Macron paid a visit to the Ivory Coast, where he vowed to provide “new force” to purportedly fight terrorists.

He also intensified calls on European allies to support the military presence in the region.

The call for European participation in the Sahel “mission,” however, is seen by many observers as an attempt to confront China and Russia who have been expanding their financial and political clout across the African continent.

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