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At least 10 killed in car bombing of restaurant in Somalia

The attackers targeted a small restaurant at lunch hour that is popular with government officials.

FILE: The site of a major car bomb and gun attack against an intelligence headquarters and detention facility in the centre of Mogadishu, which police said left at least seven militants dead on 31 August 2014. Picture: AFP.

MOGADISHU - At least 10 people were killed when a suspected suicide bomber rammed a car laden with explosives into a busy restaurant in the centre of capital Mogadishu on Tuesday, police said.

The attackers targeted a small restaurant at lunch hour that is popular with government officials, about one kilometre from the presidential palace in the heart of Mogadishu.

The explosion also hit a small tea shop next to the restaurant and sent a huge plume of smoke above the city which lies on the Indian Ocean.

"The death toll is sure to rise," said Police Colonel Osman Ibrahim at the scene. Police said was the attack was a suicide bombing.

No group has claimed responsibility but previous bombings in Mogadishu have been carried out by the Islamist al-Shabaab rebel group.

"A policeman opened fire to stop the car bomb but it was all in vain. The policeman died and the car bomb rammed into the gate in the busy restaurant," added Major Farah Hussein, another police officer at the attack site.

In February, al-Shabaab carried out an attack opposite Central Hotel, killing 25 people. The militants used a car bomb to blast their way into the hotel compound, shot government officials and set off a suicide bomb.