A suicide car bomb exploded in Mogadishu on Thursday, killing at least five people and destroying buildings in the Somali capital’s busiest street, police said.
“The explosion took place in a business centre full of hotels, fairs, shops and restaurants,” Major Mohamed Hussein, a police officer, told the Reuters news agency.
“Many cars are burning now,” he said following the blast in Maka Al Mukaram street. “We know five people are dead and the death toll is sure to rise.”
A witness saw four dead people and dozens of others injured, Reuters said, adding that he saw blood stains, a dozen cars burning and three buildings including hotels destroyed by the blast.
Separately, two witnesses told the AP news agency that the sound of gunfire followed the blast they heard late on Thursday.
The witnesses, shopkeeper Ahmed Mohamed and area resident Fatima Nur said the noises seemed to come from the residence of the chief judge of Somalia‘s appeals court on Maka Al Mukaram.
While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, the al-Shabab armed group has regularly carried out such attacks in the past.
The group, estimated at several thousand fighters, attacks high-profile targets such as hotels and checkpoints in Somalia and abroad.
The group’s stated aim is to remove the Western-backed central government and establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.