MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A car bomb exploded close to the presidential palace in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Monday, police said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility from the Islamist militant group al Shabaab, which is trying to overthrow President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's Western-backed government.
The group stepped up attacks this month, retaking a town in the central region and attacking African Union troops.
"A suicide car bomb exploded outside the compound of the presidential palace. There were casualties but we are still investigating," Ali Hussein, a police officer, told Reuters.
Ahmed Aden, a resident in the area, said he had heard a loud blast followed by gunfire.
"Now we see huge smoke coming from the scene. Soldiers surrounded the area and we can only see ambulances rushing in and out," Aden said.
Mohamed Abdullahi, another police officer, told Reuters the attack may have been aimed at palace guards who sit in the area.
(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Kevin Liffey)