A large explosion has rocked the Somali capital Mogadishu, killing one person, the AFP news agency reported, citing its own reporter who was at the scene of the blast.

The cause of Wednesday's explosion was not immediately clear.

The blast, believed to be a car bomb set off close to the parliament, is the latest in a string of attacks in the war-ravaged Mogadishu.

A body of a Somali government security official dressed in military uniform could be seen following the explosion.

"The explosion went off outside the Somali parliament. We don't know if it was a suicide bomber. Police are here and
they've surrounded the area," a witness told the Reuters news agency.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, but the al-Qaeda-linked fighters with the hardline group al- Shabab have conducted a series of guerrilla-style attacks in the capital since pulling out of fixed positions there last year.

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri this week urged all Muslims to support al-Shabab, who want to overthrow the embattled federal government and replace it with Islamic law.

In recent months, they have suffered major setbacks, with African Union troops wresting several strongholds from them. The insurgents have vowed to topple newly elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who took office in September after being chosen by the country's new parliament, bringing an end to eight years of transitional rule.

An offensive led by AU peacekeepers mainly from Uganda and Burundi has stripped al-Shabab of most of the towns they held. But analysts have warned the group are still a dangerous force, reverting to guerrilla tactics and carrying out targeted attacks.

Source: Agencies