At least 20 people have been killed and several others wounded in a massive auto bomb attack outside a hotel in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, police said, with officials fearing many casualties from the unusually large explosion. Police expect the death toll to rise and said dozens of people were hurt.
Security official Mohamed Adan told AFP news agency the "huge blast" was caused "by a trucked loaded with explosives".
A second explosion took place later in the city's Madina district.
No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack, though al Shabab, an offshoot of al Qaida, has carried out other auto bombings in the country in recent months.
The explosion appeared to target a hotel on a busy road in Hodan district.
"This was very frightful", witness Ismail Yusuf told AFP news agency.
"It was very bad, the bomb exploded on a busy road and killed many people".
"I was in a public service vehicle when the explosion went off". The sound of the blast could be heard throughout the city and a plume of thick black smoke wafted over the Somali capital.
"They have collected tens of dead and injured and the work is still ongoing", he said. "We are still busy transporting casualties".
Saturday's blast comes two days after Somalia's defence minister and army chief both resigned from their posts without explanation. The militants emerged out of a bitter insurgency fighting Ethiopia, whose troops entered Somalia in a US-backed invasion in 2006 to topple the Islamic Courts Union that was then controlling Mogadishu.
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