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Suicide bomber targets Ethiopian troops in Somalia

(Adds details, background)

MOGADISHU, April 24 (Reuters) - An attacker detonated a suicide car bomb on Tuesday at an Ethiopian military base near the Somali capital Mogadishu, witnesses said, but it was not immediately clear if there were any other casualties.

"I saw the Ethiopian soldiers shouting at this car to stop, then it exploded," said Abdi Hassan, a local resident who was at the former ranch in Afgooye, 30 km (19 miles) west of Mogadishu.

The blast sent thick black smoke pouring into the sky above the small farming town, where tens of thousands of Mogadishu residents are sheltering after a week of fighting in the city.

Hassan said he saw Ethiopian soldiers running from the scene of the explosion, but that he thought there were few casualties because most of the troops were inside a building at the base.

"It did not look like it caused much damage," he said.

Local officials and a human rights group say more than 250 people have been killed in Mogadishu by seven days of battles between allied Somali-Ethiopian troops and Islamist insurgents.

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