The blast targeted a tax collection centre during the morning rush hour in Mogadishu, Police officer Mohamed Hussein said.
Close to 100 wounded people, including children, were rushed to hospitals. Among them were several university students who had been travelling in a bus, Hussein said.
There were conflicting reports about the number of casualties. Speaking to Al Jazeera, the adviser to Mogadishu’s capital said the death toll “is above 90 at the moment”.
“There are many casualties as well so the death toll is expected to rise,” Hodan Ali said, adding that the explosion took place at the Ex-Control junction.
Abdiqadir Abdirahman, the director of the Aamin Ambulance service, said that 61 people were killed in the attack.
A large plume of black smoke rose above the capital marking one of the deadliest attacks in Mogadishu in recent memory.