Earlier, the director of the private Aamin Ambulance service, Abdukadir Abdirahman Haji, told AFP around 125 people were injured.
'The blast was devastating, and I could confirm more than 20 civilians killed, there were many more wounded, but the toll can be higher, ' police officer Ibrahim Mohamed said.
Somalia has been embroiled in a violent conflict since 1991 and is regularly rocked by bomb attacks carried out by the al-Shabaab group affiliated with al-Qaeda*.
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In February, the group claimed responsibility for a auto bombing at a crowded shopping mall that left at least 10 dead.
After yesterday's explosion at the Ex-Control checkpoint, 55-year-old Sabdow Ali, who lives nearby, said he left his house and counted at least 13 people dead. Mogadishu Mayer Omar Finish, police and medical sources said it is the deadliest incident to hit the capital in months.
"It is less than what Somalia needs", he said.
Medical personnel carry a civilian who was wounded in suicide auto bomb attack at check point in Mogadishu, Somalia, Saturday, Dec, 28, 2019.
Three other witnesses told Reuters that a small team of Turkish engineers were present at the time of the blast, constructing a road from the checkpoint into the city.
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'All I could see was scattered dead bodies [.] amid the blast and some of them burned beyond recognition'.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast. "Some of those dead were police officers, but majority were students". The group had previously relied on military-grade explosives captured during assaults on an African Union peacekeeping force.
A view of a destroyed vehicle at the scene of a large explosion near a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia.
"This explosion is similar like the one.in 2017.
We are calling on the Somali public both, inside and outside the country to take part in assisting the victims, and to stand together in the fight against Al-Shabaab", the prime minister told Radio Mogadishu. It funds itself with a "taxation" system that experts describe as extortion of businesses and travellers that brings in millions of dollars a year.
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The two victims' families have been informed and police said they remained ready to respond if new information came to light. They also thanked the police, healthcare professionals and the New Zealand public for their assistance and support.