Somalia al-Shabaab attack
In this file picture people run past the burning wreckage of a car at the scene of a car bomb attack blamed on al-Shabaab in the capital Mogadishu Feisal Omar/Reuters

As many as 10 people have been killed in a suicide bombing at a hotel in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

The Jazeera Palace Hotel is popular with diplomats and government officials and is close to Mogadishu's international airport.

As well as housing the offices of the United Nations in Somalia, it was also a base for Western diplomatic missions and AMISOM, the African Union Mission in Somalia.

"A suicide car bomb exploded at the gate of Jazeera Hotel," Major Nur Osoble, a police officer, told Reuters, adding it was too early to confirm the number of casualties and fatalities.

A BBC correspondent on the scene reported seeing as many as ten bodies in the wreckage of the hotel. He reported that terrorist group al-Shabaab had taken responsibility for the attack.

Islamist militant group al-Shabaab regularly launches bomb and gun attacks against officials and others in the capital and frequently targets hotels

The successful targeting of what is one of Mogadishu's most secure hotels will be a blow to the government in Somalia, which has been fighting the al-Shabaab militant group and had succeeded in pushing the Islamist militia out of the capital in recent years.