At least 40 persons were killed and several injured in a deadly bomb explosion near a popular hotel in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Saturday, the police said.

Adan Mohamed, a witness, told Xinhua that a vehicle loaded with explosives exploded at the junction of KM5 just opposite Safari hotel.

Most of the dead were civilians. Security forces have sealed off the blast site for investigation, Mohamed said.

Another witness Hamdi Elmi, who was near the scene, said the explosion was deafening and shook the entire surrounding area.

“I was in a public service vehicle when the explosion went off. I could see smoke from my back and the whole place was shaking,” said Hamdi, adding that “We learn the police had been trailing the vehicle with explosives”.

Windowpanes and doors in buildings far from the scene were destroyed.