Somalia parliament suicide car bomb kills four

Wreckage of suicide car bomb in Mogadishu (5 July) Police say the suicide bomber was prevented from approaching the heavily guarded parliament

A suicide car bomb has killed at least four people near Somalia's parliament, police and Somali media say.

Reports say the bomb went off outside the main gate of parliament after guards shot at the bomber.

One report quoted al-Shabab militants praising the "sacrificial attack". An attack by the rebels on the building in May left at least 10 people dead.

The Islamist militant group lost control of Mogadishu in 2011 and has since carried out several bombings.

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Al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, has vowed to step up attacks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Earlier this week, a prominent MP, Ahmed Mohamud Hayd, was shot dead in the city, in a drive-by attack claimed by al-Shabab.

'Sacrificial attack'

"A car loaded with explosives was intercepted near the parliament and it went off. There are casualties but we don't have details so far," police spokesman Mohamed Idle told AFP news agency in relation to Saturday's attack. He said that a suicide bomber was in the car.

Police and witnesses at the scene told AFP that up to four people died and many more were wounded - two policemen were reported to be among the dead.

Al-Shabab have launched several attacks on Somalia's UN-backed parliament - including in 2009 and 2010 - and more recently other targets in and around Mogadishu.

The group's military spokesman told AFP that "more than a dozen so-called police members" were killed in the "sacrificial attack at the main entrance of parliament buildings" on Saturday.

Somali  soldiers take up positions outside parliament during a clash with al-Shabab militants in  Mogadishu (24 May 2014) Somali soldiers were forced to defend parliament from an al-Shabab attack in May

In February, al-Shabab militants attacked the presidential palace in Mogadishu, leaving at least 16 people dead.

Al-Shabab, whose name means "The Youth" in Arabic, advocates the strict Saudi-inspired Wahhabi version of Islam.

The al-Qaeda-linked group wants to establish an Islamic state in Somalia.

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