At least eight people were killed Thursday when a car bomber rammed a convoy in Somalia's northern port of Bossasso, a region harbouring Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents where tensions are high ahead of elections in January.
"There was a car bomb attack targeting a vehicle of the security forces, it rammed the convoy and then exploded," Abdullahi Said, a police officer in the port town, told AFP.
"Several people have been killed, so far we confirm that eight were killed, but the toll could be higher, many of those who were injured were rushed to hospital."
The attack took place in a busy market area of Bossasso, the main port in Somalia northeastern Puntland region, lying on its Gulf of Aden coast.
Shebab fighters operate from the rugged Golis mountains southwest of Bossasso, a lawless region under longtime control of warlord, arms dealer and Shebab ally Mohamed Said Atom, who has been hit with UN Security Council sanctions for "kidnapping, piracy and terrorism."
Shebab militia have attacked military bases near Bossasso in the past, and its suicide commandos regularly launch bomb attacks or guerrilla raids.
No one immediately claimed responsiblity for the attack.
Tensions are high in the semi-autonomous region as candidates gear up for presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for January 8.
The elections were originally due to have been held in July, but were postponed by the government which at the time said the risk of violence was too great to hold them.
Impoverished Puntland, which forms the tip of the Horn of Africa, has its own government, but unlike neighbouring Somaliland, it has not declared independence from Somalia.