A suicide bomber has killed at least seven people and wounded 37 others in northern Somalia, a police official said.

The bomber targed vehicles that were carrying Puntland Marine Forces, local security forces, in the semi-autonomous region on Thursday.

"The car bomb targeted a convoy of cars," a shopkeeper, Hussein Nur, told Reuters. "I could see victims being carried away."

Two foreigners working for a company that was training local security forces were in the vehicles at the time of the blast, according to AFP news agency. 

A senior police official, Saeed Abdi, said that a woman and child were also among those killed. 

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. But, Abdi blamed the al-Qaeda-linked group of al-Shabab.

Al-Shabab has been trying to expand its influence in northern Somalia since African Union (AU) and Ethiopian forces pushed it out of its strongholds in the country's south last year.

AU and Ethiopian forces support Somalia's weak, western-backed government.

The Puntland region has largely escaped the worst of Somalia's violence, but local officials have expressed concern that armed fighters were hiding in the mountains outside the city of Bosasso.

Al-Shabab fighters have carried out a series of similar attacks in Somalia over the past year.


Source: Agencies