A “heavy” explosion rocked central Mogadishu on Thursday morning, leaving an unknown number of casualties, a security official and witnesses said.

“The blast occurred at a checkpoint close to the National Theatre, we don’t have the details but there are casualties,” said Mohamed Adam, a security official.

“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 witness, Aisha Hassan, said several vehicles were destroyed and buildings damaged, adding that ambulances were seen rushing to the scene “but it is impossible to get close to the area now”.

The road in which the blast occurred is close to the presidential palace and home to restaurants and tea-shops.

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

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