A large explosion has been gone off near the Italian Consulate in the Egyptian capital, partially destroying the facade of the building in central Cairo.

Egypt's state news agency, MENA, quoted a statement by the interior ministry on Saturday, saying the explosive device was planted inside a car. 

Medical sources said one person has been killed and four others injured.

Egypt's Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) affiliate, recently renamed as Sinai Province, claimed responsibility for the attack, the SITE Intelligence Group said. 

Italian officials said the consulate was closed at the time of the explosion  [The Associated Press]

Following the attack, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on his twitter account that there were no Italian casualties, adding that "Italy will not be intimidated".

Social media users posted photos they said were from Cairo showing heavy smoke in the city's skyline.

Egyptian journalist Omar Elhady published photos on his Twitter account, showing what he said was the damage inflicted on the consulate building in the Galaa street.

Four foreign journalist were being held by the police while trying to report from the scene, said Cairo-based journalist Alessandro Accorsi, who tweeted that he was one of them.

The blast ruptured underground water pipes, flooding the area.

Local Youm7 website posted the following footage showing the aftermath of the attack.

The explosion struck one of the busiest intersections in Cairo, a major artery that connects Ramsis Square to the heart of downtown Cairo.

Even before 7am on a weekend in the middle of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, the area around the blast would have been crowded with cars, pedestrians and mini-buses.

The explosion struck one of the busiest intersections in Cairo, a major artery that connects Ramsis Square to the heart of the downtown [Ron Ludwig/Google Street View]

Hundreds of soldiers and policemen have been killed in attacks by armed groups in Egypt since the army deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Over the same period, at least 1,400 people, mostly supporters, have killed in a security crackdown on protests.

The deadliest attacks against the security forces have occurred in the Sinai Peninsula, most of them claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant group.

But Cairo and cities and towns in the Nile Delta have also been targeted in such attacks, which have left hundreds of soldiers and police dead.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies