An explosion has occurred in Somali capital Mogadisu, killing four people, officials reported. Witnesses said that the blast occurred very close to the international airport, where African Union troops, UN staff, and several Western embassies are based.
Thick black smoke were seen in the area, coupled with sounds of gunfire which followed the explosion. Eyewitnesses said it was purely a suicide car bomb attack spearheaded by the Islamist group al-shabab.
Despite the security improvement in the area, al-shabab attacks in the Mogadishu, is still a regular thing. The latest car bomb, according to a Somali official, was reported to the security forces shortly before it took place.
"We had information about this car laden with explosives and we have been following it. But it detonated and four civilians were killed, and the bomber," interior ministry spokesman Mohamed Yusuf said.
The attack targeted a convoy of US-trained Somali intelligence forces known as the Alpha Group, Somali police officer Mohamed Hussein told AP news agency.
Witnesses say they were shocked by the size of the explosion.
"I'm not sure how many casualties there were yet, but I was really panicked by the force of the blast," said Mohamed Waberi.
The suspected group, al-Shabab has claimed responsibility to the attacks.A military spokesman for al-Shabab, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Musab, confirmed that the militants had carried out the attack, AFP reported
The latest attacks on Sunday appeared to be a retaliatory one, as it came just days after a US airstrike killed the group's intelligence chief, Tahlil Abdishakur. Security officials had said on Wednesday that Abdishakur was part of a unit responsible for suicide attacks.
Last month al-Shabab insurgents infiltrated the airport compound, killing three AU peacekeepers and a civilian contractor.
Earlier in December, at least six people were killed when al-Shabab attacked a UN convoy near the airport.
The AU has about 22,000 troops in the country drawn from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
Various armed groups have been battling for control of Somalia since the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991.