Suicide bombers attacked the main peacekeeping base in Somalia's capital, killing at least three Somali security officers.
Captain Mohamed Hussein told The Associated Press news agency on Monday one blast took place as security forces were searching cars at a checkpoint a few hundred metres from the main base of the African Union peacekeeping force, AMISOM.
Another vehicle then drove through towards the base's main gates but came under fire from peacekeepers, police officer Mohamed Ahmed told Reuters news agency.
"It exploded about 200 metres from the gate. Civilian buildings were damaged," AMISOM said on its Twitter feed.
The powerful blasts damaged the front of the nearby Hotel Peace, though there were no immediate reports of casualties there. The burned-out shell of one of the wrecked vehicles lay outside.
Al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab said the fighters had intended to attack the hotel, as African leaders seeking a solution to Somalia's decades-long turmoil had met there last year.
Abdur Razak Tuurare, a Mogadishu-based journalist, said the blast had destroyed most of the hotel.
Witnesses said a second explosion and heavy gunfire could be heard at the checkpoint after the attack.
Somalia's capital has seen frequent bomb attacks at hotels and military checkpoints with al-Shabab, which wants to topple the Western-backed government, often claiming responsibility.
Despite being ousted from most of its key strongholds across large parts of south and central Somalia, the al-Qaeda-linked group continues to wage deadly attacks across the country.
The attacks have threatened this Horn of Africa nation's attempts to rebuild from two decades of conflict.
|A local journalist said the blast had destroyed most of the hotel [Abdirizak Mohamud Tuuryare/Al Jazeera]
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies