A suicide bomber from Somalia’s al-Shabab has killed 18 police officers and wounded 15 others after blowing himself up inside the country’s main police academy, according to authorities.
Witnesses said the police were gathered on Thursday in a square before their early morning parade when the bomber attacked in the capital Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility and put the toll at 27 dead.
“It was martyrdom operation, in which the mujahedeen targeted the police academy camp,” a statement posted on a pro-al-Shabab website read.
The assault is the latest in a decade-old battle by al-Shabab to overthrow Somalia’s internationally backed government.
“Eighteen members from the police were killed, and 15 others were wounded, after a suicide bomber blew himself up inside the academy,” General Muktar Hussein Afrah, acting police chief, said.
The attacker disguised himself in a police uniform to access the camp, Afrah said.
Medics and ambulance teams rushed to take the wounded to hospital and collect the corpses.
Officers said the toll could have been far worse had the attacker detonated his bomb in the centre of the crowd.
Later on Thursday, police attended the funerals of some of their colleagues killed in the attack.