'Several' killed in suicide bombing in Somali capital

Around 11 people were killed Sunday when a suicide attacker rammed a car laden with explosives into a government convoy at a busy junction in the Somali capital, police said.

"Several people have been killed, the blast was big, we are gathering details but the number of those killed is around 11," police official Mohamed Adan said.

The blast is the latest in a string of bloody attacks in the seaside capital, where Al-Qaeda linked Shebab insurgents have vowed to topple the government and have set off several bombs and launched guerrilla-style strikes.

Adan said that the people inside the armoured government car targeted by the attacker had survived. It was not immediately clear who the passengers were.

The car exploded close to a police station at the central K4 roundabout, a busy part of Mogadishu where many people gather to drink tea at roadside stalls.

Other police officials said that at least 10 people had been killed.

"I saw eight bodies including a woman, some of them were burned very badly by the fire from the explosion," said eyewitness Ali Yusuf. "It was a terrible sight."

An AFP reporter on the scene said that the armoured car hit in the attack had been damaged with its back windows blasted out.

Body parts were strewn around the blast site, where fire trucks sprayed water on the smouldering wreckage of the vehicles while several wounded were taken to hospital.

Abdi Mohamed Dhabarey, commissioner of the city's Hodan district where the incident occurred, confirmed that a "car bomb targeted an armoured car with a senior delegation" inside.

The attack comes just ahead of a conference in London on Tuesday to draw up plans to boost security and increase development in conflict-torn Somalia.

More than 50 countries and organisations are due to take part in the talks, co-hosted by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

No one immediatly claimed responsibility for Sunday's blast, but it comes a day after senior Shebab commander Ahmed Abdi Godane released an audio message in which he urged "the mujahedeen to increase the number of martyrdom operations, so as to permanently cripple the weak apostate regime."

Last month, the Shebab launched a show of force in a complex coordinated attack, killing at least 34 as suicide commandos stormed the main courthouse while a car bomb was set off elsewhere in Mogadishu.

While riven by infighting and hunted by US drones, the extremists remain a potent threat, launching car bombs and assassinations, and are still powerful in rural areas as well as reportedly infiltrating the security forces.

The attack on Sunday comes after a week-long major security operation in the capital, with police closing down roads and searching cars for explosives.