Blast heard in Somali capital Mogadishu

Smoke rises after an explosion in Mogadishu, Somalia February 4, 2019 in this video screen grab taken from social media. Ali Abdirahman/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT.

A huge blast was heard in the heart of the Somali capital Mogadishu on Monday and clouds of smoke could be seen rising.

Smoke rises after an explosion in Mogadishu, Somalia February 4, 2019 in this video screen grab taken from social media. Ali Abdirahman/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT.

Initial reports indicate that the blast, in the Hamarweyne district, came from new the local government offices.

The blast destroyed nearby buildings including shops and a local restaurant.

Emergency services have been deployed to the scene to assist victims including those trapped inside the damaged structures.

There is no official death toll from the early morning blast.

It was unclear what caused the explosion but Islamist militant group al Shabaab frequently carries out bombings in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia against government military and other targets.

Al Shabaab’s militants also carry out attacks outside Somalia especially in Kenya to pressure the country to return its troops who form part of the peace keeping force AMISOM that helps defend the central government.

Its latest assault in Kenya, a suicide and gun attack at an office and hotel complex in the capital Nairobi last month killed 21 people.