The death toll from a car bomb explosion at a busy security checkpoint in Somalia's capital has risen to at least 76 people, according to an ambulance service official.
Police said the devastating blast targeted a tax collection center during the morning rush hour in Mogadishu as Somalia returned to work after its weekend.
"The number of casualties we have confirmed is 76 dead and 70 wounded, it could still be higher," the director of the private Aamin Ambulance service, Abdukadir Abdirahman Haji, told AFP.
Earlier, a government spokesman told the Associated Press that at least 30 people had been killed, though warning that the toll was expected to rise further.
A large plume of smoke rose above the capital as dozens of wounded people were rushed to hospitals, including children. Among them were several university students who had been traveling in a bus, police said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. The al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab often carries out such attacks.
The extremist group was pushed out of Mogadishu several years ago but continues to target high-profile areas such as checkpoints and hotels in the seaside city.
Two weeks ago, five people were killed when Shabaab militants attacked a Mogadishu hotel popular with politicians, army officers and diplomats in an hours-long siege.
Al Shabaab was blamed for a devastating truck bombing in Mogadishu in October 2017 that killed more than 500 people, though the group never claimed responsibility for the blast that led to widespread public outrage.
The attack again raises concern about the readiness of Somali forces to take over responsibility for the Horn of Africa country's security in the coming months from an African Union force.