A suicide car bomb rocked Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, on Thursday morning, leaving at least five people killed, according to local media reports.
“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.”
The explosion was set off by a checkpoint at the National Theatre, where Somali military protects the presidential palace. Several others have reportedly been injured and the death toll is expected to rise.
Alleged photographs of the attack of social media show shattered car windows, destroyed buildings, and thick plumes of black smoke in the sky, with the area cordoned off by police.
No group has yet come forward to claim responsibility for the attack.
However, the jihadist group Al Shaabab has waged a series of attacks across the country, as part of a battle to remove a Western-backed government protected by African Union-mandated peacekeepers.
The group was forced from Mogadishu in 2011 but maintains a foothold in some regions. It has killed thousands of Somalis and hundreds of civilians across East Africa in a decade-long insurgency.