The Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab group quickly claimed responsibility via its radio arm, Andalus.

An ambulance is seen near a blast site that rocked a military base in Mogadishu, Somalia, August 8, 2020
An ambulance is seen near a blast site that rocked a military base in Mogadishu, Somalia, August 8, 2020 (Reuters)

A huge blast has rocked a military base in Somalia's capital Mogadishu near a stadium on Saturday, killing at least eight people and injuring 14, emergency workers said, and the militant group Al Shabab claimed responsibility.

Soldiers opened fire after the explosion which sent clouds of smoke into the sky, said Halima Abdisalan, a mother of three who lives near the area.

"We ran indoors in fear," she said. "Soon I could see a military pickup speeding and carrying many soldiers covered with blood. I do not know if they were all dead or injured."

Colonel Ahmed Muse said the bomber struck the 12th April Army Brigade base near the newly reopened sports stadium in Warta-Nabadda district.

Army officer Major Abdullahi Mohamud said it was an attack. "It must be a suicide car bomb, I am now transporting casualties," he said.

Claiming responsibility for the incident, the military operation's spokesman of the Al Shabab group, Abdiasis Abu Musab, said: "We conducted a successful martyrdom operation on a major apostate military base in Mogadishu."

"The enemy suffered many casualties and wounded, military vehicles destroyed."

Windows blown out

The blast sent shockwaves through the city and a cloud of smoke overhead. Windows were blown out in buildings nearby.

Witnesses said the vehicle passed by a checkpoint before a huge explosion erupted near the military camp.

Suleyman Hassan, a witness, said a minivan loaded with explosives detonated just outside the entrance.

"There are casualties, and some vehicles are burning. We can see clouds of smoke," he said.

Other witnesses also reported seeing ambulances taking away the dead and wounded from the site.

Al Shabab fighting for control

Somalia has been embroiled in deadly violence since 1991 when clan warlords overthrew leader Siad Barre and then turned on each other.

Since 2008, Al Shabab has been fighting to overthrow the internationally-recognised central government.

Al Shabab, an Al Qaeda affiliate, was driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 and lost most of its strongholds, but still controls vast swathes of the countryside.

Its militants have vowed to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu and have carried out numerous attacks in the capital.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies