A police officer walks through the debris of a destroyed building following a large blast in Mogadishu, Somalia, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Police say a suicide car bomb exploded near the presidential palace killing and injuring a number of people. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

NAIROBI - Somali police say at least 17 people have been killed in attacks near the presidential palace in the capital Mogadishu that have been claimed by the Islamist terrorist group al-Shabaab.

At least 25 others were wounded in the bombings on Saturday morning, police officer Ahmed Bashane said.

Seven police officers, a prominent Somali journalist, and many civilians were among the the dead, he said.

An explosives-laden vehicle blew up at a military checkpoint near the palace and the National Theatre around 9:30 am (0630 GMT), damaging nearby buildings and sending thick black smoke billowing into the sky.

The suicide attacker detonated his explosives as security forces conducted a search of the vehicle, officer Ali Hassan Kulmiye said. The loud boom could heard across the city on what is a normal business day in Somalia.

The blast was followed by another car bomb a short time later in the same area, which was already packed with police and medics.

Video posted on social media showed bodies strewn across the street, some of them wearing police uniforms.

Well-known reporter Awil Dahir Salad was killed in the attacks, according to the London-based Somali broadcaster he worked for, Universal Television.

The al-Qaida-linked extremist group al-Shabaab took responsibility for the attack on pro-insurgent radio station Andalus.

Al-Shabaab is seeking to establish a fundamentalist Islamist state in Somalia. They routinely launch attacks on government buildings, hotels and restaurants in the volatile Horn of Africa nation.

dpa