Three killed in Somalia car bomb targeting airport official: police

Mogadishu (AFP) - Three people were killed Friday in a car bomb targeting an airport official in Somalia's capital, police said, as investigators probe an airplane blast experts fear was also a bomb.

"An airport security official was targeted but he survived the attack, three other people including a woman were killed in the blast," police official Ali Dahir told AFP.

Witnesses described an enormous explosion with the car bursting into flames. The man believed to have been targeted had just left the vehicle to go into a chemist shop.

"A man got out of the car and entered a pharmacy, but before he returned a huge blast ripped through the car. I saw several people burned," said Aded Mohamed, who was near the explosion.

No group has claimed responsibility for the car bomb, but Somalia's Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab extremists have carried out a raft of similar attacks in the past.

The car bomb follows a blast on a commercial airliner that ripped a hole in its fuselage, 15 minutes after take-off from Mogadishu on Tuesday.

It is unclear whether the two blasts were in any way related, but security has been boosted around the already heavily fortified airport.

One passenger, named by the government as Abdulahi Abdisalam Borle, was killed in the mystery plane blast, apparently sucked out through the ragged hole ripped in the metal.

Two other passengers were slightly injured, but the rest of the around 70 passengers and crew were unhurt

- One killed in plane blast -

Aviation experts and the pilot who landed the plane safely in Mogadishu after the mid-air explosion have said they fear the blast was a bomb. There has been no official confirmation of the cause of the explosion.

Mogadishu airport is surrounded by blast walls, and adjoins the capital's main base of the African Union mission to Somalia, the 22,000-strong force backing the government in the battle against the Shebab.

The insurgents have lost ground since being routed from Mogadishu in 2011 but continue to stage regular shooting and suicide attacks. They have launched mortar attacks on the airport compound in the past.

They have made no claim of carrying out a bomb attack on the plane.

The airline and government aviation experts have been examining the blast, with foreign experts due to begin work on Friday.

"Foreign experts are coming regarding the blast on the plane. They will establish facts and see if it was really a bomb that went off on board," a Mogadishu airport security official said, asking not to be named.

Photographs showed a large hole -- about a metre in diameter -- just above the engines on the right wing, with streaks of soot on the plane.

Minister for Transport Ali Jama Jangeli called on people to await the results of the investigation.

"We don't want to speculate on this matter. There is no need to make suspicious links with any group at the moment," Jangeli told reporters.

"There are investigations going on to establish what caused the airplane make the emergency landing."

Pilot Vladimir Vodopivec has said he believed it was likely caused by a bomb, a claim backed by aviation safety expert Xavier Tytelman, who compared images of the blast with photographs of previous explosions.