A powerful car bomb killed a Somali military general and five of his bodyguards in the capital Sunday, according to a Somali police officer.

Gen. Mohamed Roble Jimale Gobanle and his bodyguards were killed when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle next to the general's car near Somalia's defense ministry compound in Mogadishu, said Capt. Ali Nur.

Gobanle was the commander of the Somali army's 3rd Brigade, a combat team fighting the al-Shabab Islamic extremists in southern Somalia.

Al-Shabab, claimed the responsibility for the attack, according the group's Andalus radio station.  Al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaida, has been waging a deadly insurgency across large parts of Somalia and often uses suicide car bomb attacks.

Al-Shabab is fighting to impose a strict version of Islam in this Horn of Africa nation. Despite losing a lot of ground in recent years, the extremist group continues to carry out lethal attacks in many parts of the country, and many recent attacks have targeted military bases.

Last week, heavily armed al-Shabab fighters briefly seized El Wak, a town near the Kenyan border, killing four soldiers before troops recaptured it one day later early Saturday.