United States says air strike in Somalia kills militant

Somalis walk past burning vehicles outside Midnimo mall after a car bomb attack in Mogadishu

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the vehicle bomb attack in Mogadishu, but, the Al Qaeda-linked Al shabaab group often carry out such bombings in the capital, trying topple to UN-backed government.

A dawn attack on the southern town of Beled-Hawo started with a suicide auto bombing targeting government troops' frontline defenses.

Al-Shabab, however, claimed it had killed 30 soldiers in the fighting and left the town after releasing 35 prisoners from the local jail.

Al-Shabaab claimed that they killed 24 Somali soldiers.

"An investigation has been launched and we are not ruling out terrorism because this attack is not a normal robbery", regional police chief Larry Kieng told journalists of the shooting in the town of Ukunda.

Al-Shabab is the dominant militant group in Somalia, a country in the horn of Africa that has been ravaged by decades of war and poverty.

Al-Shabaab carry out frequent attacks on security and government targets, but also on civilians.

The auto had been parked near a hotel on the busy Maka Almukarramah Street in Mogadishu, he said.

The group has been driven out of Somalia's major towns by a UN-mandated African Union force (Amisom) of some 18,000 soldiers, but still controls large parts of southern Somalia. Both AMISOM and the US military are trying to prepare Somalia's armed forces to take over the country's security before AMISOM's planned departure by the end of 2020.

Somalia has been the scene of deadly clashes between government forces and al-Shabab militants since 2006.

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