Somali suicide bomber wounds several outside police post

MOGADISHU (AFP) - A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a police post in the Somali capital's main market Thursday, wounding several people, police said.

The blast was the latest in war-ravaged Mogadishu, where Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents have launched a series of guerrilla-style attacks since pulling out of fixed positions there in 2011.

"A suicide bomber tried to enter a police post, but he was stopped and he blew himself up.... He died but four other people including a woman were wounded," said police official Abdi Mohamed.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast in Bakara market, once a stronghold of the Shebab but which in recent months has sprung back to life as the city's economic heart.

"I saw several wounded people and the severed body of a young man," said witness Dahir Bare.

While the Shebab have been on the back foot in recent months, having lost a string of key towns to a 17,000-strong African Union force fighting alongside Somali soldiers, they remain a potent threat.

On Monday, the Shebab claimed responsibility for a car bomb that killed at least 10 people and which wounded a top intelligence official.

On Sunday the group retook the southern town of Hudur - the capital of Bakool region - after Ethiopian troops pulled out of the town.

Somalia has been ravaged by conflict since 1991 but a new UN-backed government took power in September, ending eight years of transitional rule by a corruption-riddled administration.

Many have said the new government offers the most serious hope for stability since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.