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MOGADISHU, Somalia — An Islamic extremist suicide bomber disguised as a police officer killed at least 18 people at a police academy in Somalia’s capital on Thursday, authorities said. The Somalia-based Al Shabab extremist group claimed responsibility.

Another 20 officers were wounded, some of them seriously, Colonel Mohamud Aden said.

The bomber, with explosives strapped around his waist and torso, infiltrated General Kahiye Police Academy and targeted officers rehearsing for Somalia’s Police Day celebrations scheduled for Dec. 20, Captain Mohamed Hussein said.

The bomber walked into the academy undetected and joined a line of officers before he detonated the explosives under his sportswear, Hussein said.

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Officer Farah Omar, who was at the scene at the time of the blast, said the bomber targeted a spot where dozens of soldiers had gathered. ‘‘He wanted to inflict maximum damage,’’ Omar said.

Al Shabab has been blamed for the massive truck bombing in the capital in October that left 512 dead. Only a few attacks since 9/11 have killed more people.

Associated Press