Apr 21, 11:00 AM EDT

Somalia police: 9 killed by car bomb in capital


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MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- A car bomb killed at least nine people and wounded many others at a restaurant in Somalia's capital on Tuesday, police said.

In addition to the deaths, at least eight people were wounded in the attack, said police officer Mohamed Hussein.

Security forces secured the area around the Banoda restaurant, in Mogadishu, after the attack, said another senior police officer Mohamed Abdi. The car with the bomb had been parked near Somalia's heavily guarded presidential palace when it exploded, he said.

Although no group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, it bears the hallmarks of Somalia's Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, which frequently carries out attacks in Mogadishu and throughout Somalia.

At least seven people were killed Monday when a bomb planted in a U.N. van exploded in the northern area of Puntland, a semiautonomous region that is normally peaceful. Four U.N. staff working to help Somali children were among those killed in that attack, the U.N. children's agency announced Tuesday.

Al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaida, appears to be stepping up attacks in Somalia and across borders even as it loses ground inside Somalia.

Despite losing some of its top leaders in U.S. air strikes and being pushed by African Union forces out of the capital, Mogadishu, and into rural regions mostly in southern Somalia, al-Shabab is still able to carry out deadly bombings against government targets and public places seen as popular with foreigners.

The extremists have also attacked neighboring Kenya, which has sent troops to Somalia to fight the insurgents. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for an attack earlier this month at Garissa University College in eastern Kenya in which at least 148 people, most of them students, were killed.

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AP writer Frank Jordans contributed to this report from Berlin.

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