A suspected car bomb attack outside a popular hotel in the Somali capital has killed at least six people.  

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but Mogadishu has often been the target of attacks by al Shabaab, an al Qaeda-aligned Islamist group that was driven out of the capital by African troops two years ago.

"We understand a car laden with explosives was parked in front of the hotel," Farah Aden, a senior police officer, said.

"This car bomb exploded and burnt the other cars which were also parked there."

At least six people, including four police men, were killed in the blast, while 15 other people were wounded, he said, adding, "The death toll may rise. There are serious injuries."

The vehicle exploded next to Hotel Maka, on a main road that runs through Mogadishu.

Four cars and two motorbikes were burnt out at the scene, a witness said.

He saw three bodies of police men being carried away.