At least nine people have been killed in an attack on the higher education ministry in a busy area of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, witnesses say.
The BBC’s Ibrahim Aden says a car loaded with explosives was driven into the wall surrounding the compound.
Gunmen then stormed the building, though officials now say it has been secured. There are reports that hostages have been seized.
The militant group al-Shabab said it was behind the attack.
Some reports said the attack began with twin blasts, including the car bomb.
Shooting and the wail of ambulances could be heard at the scene, and many injured people have been carried away.
State radio cited reports that the ministry’s director-general, Ismail Yusuf, was among the injured.
It said the head of security at the ministry, who it named as Sandheere, a police officer, was among the dead.
Public buses sat abandoned in the street close to the walled compound, which also houses the ministry of petroleum.
Somalia’s Minister for Internal Security, Abdirizak Omar, tweeted that the attack was over: “UPDATE: Ministry of Education secured by Special Forces #Mogadishu #Somalia”
One report said gunmen had escaped over the walls of the building.
Al-Shabab militants often launch attacks in the city and have previously used car bombs to initiate attacks on fortified buildings.
Last month, the al-Qaeda-linked insurgents launched a two-day siege at a hotel in Mogadishu.
The rebels oppose the country’s internationally-backed government and the African Union forces supporting it.
Last week, Somalia placed a bounty on the top 11 leaders of the group.