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Blast in Somali capital kills five, injures six - official


MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A blast in the Somali capital killed five civilians and injured six more on Wednesday, a city spokesman said, underscoring the ability of Islamist insurgents to carry out bombings despite territorial losses.

"We have confirmed five civilians, including a mother and her son, died," said Abdifatah Omar Halane, spokesman for the Mogadishu mayor.

A Reuters reporter at the scene saw burnt bodies and a wrecked car near a damaged police checkpoint.

Bombings are a near-daily occurrence in the Somali capital. Most are claimed by the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militia, which is fighting to overthrow the weak U.N.-backed government and drive out the African Union peacekeeping force supporting it.

Since withdrawing from the capital, Mogadishu, in 2011, al Shabaab has lost control of most of Somalia's cities and towns. But it still retains a strong presence in swathes of the south and centre.

Also on Wednesday, eight Kenyan security officers were killed on the Kenyan side of the Somali border in two separate roadside bombings. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the first attack but could not be reached for comment on the second.

Adding to the violence, a small jihadist group in the north of Somalia has split from the main insurgency and declared allegiance to Islamic State. That group claimed responsibility for a bombing in the northern city of Bosasso that killed five people on Tuesday.

Somalia has been mired in civil war since 1991. It also suffering from a regional drought that threatens to tip its population of 12 million into famine.

(writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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