Somalia's police say a government office complex is under attack and some hostages have been seized.

Capt. Mohamed Hussein, a senior police officer, says the attackers stormed the ministry of higher education after a suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle at the gate of the office complex, opening the way for gunmen to enter.

Hussein said the gunmen have taken hostage some of the ministry's employees.

The assault on the walled compound which also houses other government ministries is the latest attack by suspected Islamic extremists of al-Shabab who attack government targets and the African Union forces who are supporting the government.

Smoke could be seen rising over the compound and gunfire was heard from inside.

Security forces rushed to the scene and ambulances ferried wounded victims to hospitals.