Car bomb blast 'kills 15' in Somalia's Mogadishu

Explosion in busy area of Somali capital also wounds 17 people, rescue services say.

    At least 15 people have killed in a car bomb explosion near a hotel and restaurants in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, according to rescue services.

    The blast on Thursday afternoon in the busy Maka Al-Mukarama road sent a huge cloud of smoke into the sky, causing destruction in nearby buildings and parked cars.

    "So far 15 people died including five women. Seventeen others were injured in the blast," Abdikadir Abdirahman, the director of Amin Ambulance service, told the Reuters news agency.

    A witness at the scene said she had seen 18 bodies.

    "As a mother, it is shocking for me and I request those behind the explosions to stop. We are crying every day over dead bodies, and it is very hard for us to talk about," the resident, who did not wish to be named, told Reuters.

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

    Mogadishu is regularly targeted by al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group that has has been fighting to topple the country's government.

    In 2011, al-Shabab fighters fled fixed positions they once held in Mogadishu, and have since lost many of their strongholds.

    But they retain control of large rural swaths of the country, and continue to wage a guerrilla war against the authorities.

    On Saturday, 15 people were killed in two explosions and a gun battle between al-Shabab fighters and security personnel in central Mogadishu.

    SOURCE: News agencies