Three Somali soldiers die trying to defuse car bomb - police

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MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Three soldiers died when a car bomb exploded while they were trying to defuse it on Wednesday in the Somali capital Mogadishu, police and the militant al Shabaab group said.

The men were dismantling part of the car when the device went off. “First two soldiers died and another was injured. The third soldier died of the blast wounds minutes later,” police major Mohamed Hussein told Reuters.

Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab claimed responsibility but gave different details. “Five mine experts including security officials and foreigners died in the Mogadishu blast,” its military affairs spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab said.

Police officer Hussein said all the dead were Somalis.

Since losing large swathes of territory to African Union peacekeepers supporting the government, al Shabaab have frequently launched raids and deadly attacks in Mogadishu and other regions controlled by the federal government.

Somalia has been at war since 1991, when clan-based warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other.

Reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by George Obulutsa and Tom Heneghan