Nine people were wounded in the attack, claimed by Al Shabab militant group, near a restaurant in central Mogadishu, police say.

Damaged cars are seen at a business centre in Maka al Mukaram street in  capital Mogadishu.
Damaged cars are seen at a business centre in Maka al Mukaram street in capital Mogadishu. (Reuters)

Four people were killed and nine wounded when a car bomb exploded near a restaurant in central Mogadishu on Thursday, police said, an attack Al Shabab militant group claimed.

The blast "was caused by a car loaded with explosives, we perceive that it was parked near a restaurant along the road," Somali police official Ibrahim Mohamed said. 

The restaurant was near a security checkpoint in the Somali capital, not far from the presidential palace. The road in which the blast occurred houses eateries and tea shops.

"The explosion was very heavy, and we could see the smoke and dust overwhelmed the whole area, it was a car bomb," said witness Ibrahim Farey.

Another, Aisha Hassan, said several vehicles were destroyed and buildings damaged.

'Palace apostates' targeted

Al Shabab said it had planted the bomb, claiming in a statement that its "fighters targeted one of the checkpoints of the palace apostates."

The group, linked to Al Qaeda, is fighting an armed insurrection in Somalia against what it sees as heretic and foreign influence.

Earlier this month, at least 20 people died in an attack in Mogadishu which saw Al Shabab battling security forces for nearly 24 hours.

Al Shabab was chased out of Mogadishu in 2011 by the 22,000-strong African Union mission AMISOM, and has had to abandon most of their strongholds.

But they still control vast rural areas.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, elected in February 2017, has declared a state of war against the group.

Source: AFP