A Somali police official says a suicide bomber has detonated his explosives-laden car at the gate of a hotel popular with government officials in Mogadishu.

Capt. Mohamed Hussein says gunfire could be heard inside the Maka-Mukarramah Hotel, but it was not clear if any gunmen had managed to penetrate the hotel's gate.

He said there was no information yet on casualties and it was not clear who was being targeted.

The Somali militant group al-Shabab routinely carries out suicide bombings, drive-by shootings and other attacks in Mogadishu, the seat of Somalia's Western-backed government.