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Suicide bomber kills 17 at Somali police academy

Suicide bomber kills 17 at Somali police academy
. (Los Angeles Times)

An Islamic extremist suicide bomber killed at least 17 people and injured 20 at a police academy in Somalia's capital Thursday, police said.

The bomber, with explosives strapped around his waist, infiltrated Gen. Kahiye Police Academy in Mogadishu and targeted officers gathering for special morning exercises, Capt. Mohamed Hussein said.

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The officers were rehearsing for Somalia's Police Day celebrations scheduled for Dec. 20, Hussein said.

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

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.

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.

The U.S. has carried out at least 32 drone strikes this year against Shabab and a small but growing number of fighters linked to the group Islamic State, many of them Shabab defectors.

A drone strike earlier this week against a Shabab vehicle carrying explosives prevented an “imminent threat to the people of Mogadishu,” the U.S. Africa Command said.

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