BBC reporter in the city says a loud explosion was heard near the National Theatre.
Security has improved in Mogadishu over the past year following the withdrawal of the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab group. A new Somali government was formed last year tasked with ending instability. "We've counted at least eight dead so far. It was a car bomb attack near the National Theatre," said police official Mohamed Duale, AFP news agency reports
A witness, Hassan Salad, said the dead included passengers in a minibus that was hit by the blast, AFP reports. "This is a disaster, there is smoke and dead bodies thrown all around," he is quoted as saying.No group has said it carried out the attack. The BBC's Mohammed Moalimu, who is at the scene, says ambulances are rushing the wounded to hospital.The huge explosion damaged nearby buildings, but not the National Theatre, he adds. Al-Shabab was forced out of Mogadishu in August 2011 following an offensive by African Union (AU) troops. However, bombings and assassinations have continued in the city.
Pro-government forces have also seized control from al-Shabab of most of the urban centres in southern and central Somalia. The Islamist group still dominates many rural areas.