Reuters International

A Somali traffic policemen talks to his phone after he was wounded during a suicide car bomb explosion outside the traffic police headquarters in Somalia's capital Mogadishu May 9, 2016. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

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MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A suicide car bomb at Mogadishu's traffic police headquarters killed at least two officers on Monday, Somali police said, and the country's al Shabaab militant group claimed responsibility.

Three other police were wounded during the attack, said traffic police officer Mohamed Nur. "It was a suicide car bomb that hit the gate. We also shot dead an armed militant who wanted to storm the building," he told Reuters.

Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, said they lost the two attackers and said the death toll on the government side was nine policemen.

It was not possible to verify the death toll independently. Al Shabaab, which frequently attacks military and civilian targets in its campaign to topple Somalia's Western-backed government, has inflated casualty figures in the past.

Local residents said the front of the traffic headquarters was damaged extensively by the blast, which also destroyed nearby shops.

(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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