At least three people were killed and eight others wounded after a car bomb detonated near a security checkpoint along a key road in Mogadishu Saturday, security official and witnesses said.
"The police were chasing the hostile vehicle after spotting it a few kilometres away from where it exploded. Three civilians died according to the information we have received so far and eight others are wounded," security official Abdirahman Mohamed told AFP.
"The police opened fire on the vehicle and chased it and this has allowed many people to flee away from road. This has really limited the number of casualties the blast could have caused," he added.
Witnesses said they heard gunfire and saw vehicles and three-wheel tuk-tuks scatter before the heavy blast occurred.
"I was at a gym close to where the blast occurred, but thanks to God we have heard the gunshots before the blast. And this alerted many people including myself and we fled from the area to take cover before the vehicle reached the area of the explosion," Dahir Osman, a witness said.
"The blast was huge, I was inside a shop and I saw police chasing a vehicle on the wrong side of the road. It crashed into several vehicles and tuk-tuks before it exploded close to the checkpoint as police continued opening fire on the vehicle," said another witness, Aisha Ahmed.
Mogadishu is regularly targeted with attacks by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab group who have been waging a long and violent insurgency seeking to unseat the internationally backed government in Mogadishu.
They were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011, but still control swathes of territory from where they plan and launch frequent, deadly strikes against government and civilian targets.