Security officers arrive to secure the scene of an explosion in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. File photo/ Reuters
MOGADISHU: A big explosion was heard in the heart of Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Saturday, with a plume of smoke seen above the scene of blast, a Reuters witness reported.
It was not clear who was responsible for the blast and what exactly had been detonated although extremist group Al Shabaab frequently carries out bombings in the Horn of Africa country.
“The first blast took place at the Ministry of Labour ... there are also other ministry buildings near the scene. It was a suicide car bomb followed by gunfire,” said police officer Major Mohamed Hussein.
He added that a second blast had followed the initial one.
Al Shabaab is fighting to topple Somalia's western backed central government and establish its own rule based on its strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.
The group was ejected from Mogadishu in 2011 and has since been driven from most of its other strongholds across the country. But it remains a formidable threat, with its fighters frequently carrying out bombings in Somalia and neighbouring Kenya.
Troops from Kenya form part of the African Union- mandated peacekeeping force AMISOM that helps defend Somalia's central government.
At least 26 people, including many foreigners, were killed and 56 injured in a suicide bomb and gun attack claimed by Al Shabaab militants on a popular hotel in southern Somalia, a top regional official said on Saturday.
Security officials and witnesses reported bodies strewn on the ground as plumes of smoke rose high into the air after the bomb detonated on Mogadishu's Maka Al-Mukarama road, one of the seaside capital's main thoroughfares, an area busy with businesses and travellers.
The blast occurred on Thursday at the Chenjiagang Industrial Park in the city of Yancheng, in Jiangsu province, and the fire was finally brought under control at 3.00am on Friday (1900 GMT), state television said.
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