A car bomb attack on a bustling street between the ministry of defence HQ and a military academy has left at least 15 dead.

The attack was an assassination attempt on Ahmed Mohamed Irfid, the new Somali military chief, Police Captain Osman Mohamed said.

The suicide bomber attempted to ram through a convoy of vehicles in which Irfid was travelling in but missed. The car then ploughed into a minibus which held many passengers.

Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the car bomb attack, releasing a statement through Andalus Radio, one of the Islamist group's media channels.

The new military chief escaped without injuiry. Irfid was appointed the new head of defence forces three days ago by Somali President Mohamed Farmaajo in a security reorganisation.

Some of the badly wounded died while on their way to hospital, ambulance driver Ahmed Hussein told CNN.

The death toll could rise as the minibus was completely wrecked. A Reuters eyewitness at the scene of the blast reported seeing human flesh on the tarmac road.

"When we arrived at the scene, we counted bodies of 15 people, most of them were severed," Mire Aden, a local police chief, told Al Jazeera.

"A number of soldiers are among the dead," he said, adding that none of the civilians had survived in the wrecked vehicle.

Plumes of black smoke rose in the air above the carnage as soldiers fired rounds of ammunition to disperse the crowd.

"What happened here was a painful tragedy," said Abdifitah Halane, a spokesman for Mogadishu's mayor, told the Associated Press news agency.

"There is flesh and blood everywhere."

Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed recently declared war against Al Shabaab, giving them 60 days to surrender. "Bomb attacks have become a common occurrence," Mohamed said. "Because of that, I would like to announce to the Somali people that the country is in a state of war, and the state of the war is not going to be on one front. This war will be a justified one."