Heavy bomb blast in Somali capital, several casualties - security officer

The attack took place on the busy Maka Al-Mukarama road, once of the main highways through the seaside capital, an area busy with businesses and travellers.

FILE: A Somali soldier runs for cover at the scene of two explosions set off near the ministries of public works and labour in Mogadishu on 23 March 2019. Picture: AFP

MOGADISHU - A large bomb exploded in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Thursday, with security officials and witnesses reporting bodies strewn on the ground as plumes of smoke rose high into the air.

"There was a heavy blast -- presumably caused by a vehicle loaded with explosives," said Adan Abdikadir, a government security officer. "There have been casualties, both dead and injured."

Witnesses reported bodies lying in the busy street.

"I don't know whether they were dead or wounded, but I could see several people strewn in the street -- some of them were motionless," said Suado Ahmed, a witness who was close by to the explosion.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing.

However, Mogadishu is regularly targeted by the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab insurgents, who have been fighting for over a decade to topple the government.

The attack took place on the busy Maka Al-Mukarama road, once of the main highways through the seaside capital, an area busy with businesses and travellers.

Witnesses said several cars and three-wheeler motorbikes were destroyed by the force of the blast.

The bombing is the latest in a recent string of blasts in the capital, which has been hit regularly by Shabaab attacks.

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

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