At least ten people have died and a number of others have been injured in a car bomb blast near the presidential palace in Somalia.

Police said the blast in the capital appeared to target Mogadishu's security chief.

However, most of those who died were civilians travelling on a public minibus, which came between the government car and the car bomb.

The suicide attacker detonated the explosives while driving along a boulevard that runs between the palace and the national theatre.

Senior police officer Abdiqadir Mohamud said the route is lined with tearooms that were engulfed in fire moments after the blast.

"Littered in the scene are human hands and flesh," Mr Mohamud told Reuters.

Police said seven civilians, three government security officers, and the bomber died in the blast that brought part of the city to a standstill.

At least seven others were injured.

It was the worst attack in the Somali capital this year.

Security in Mogadishu has improved greatly since a military offensive drove Islamist rebels allied to al-Qaeda out of the city in August 2011.

But bombings and assassinations in Mogadishu, blamed on militants, still occur often.

Al-Shabaab said it carried out the attack.

The group, which wants to impose its strict version of Islamic law, or Sharia, said the strike was in revenge for the killing of people believed to be its members over the past few weeks.