Islamic militants, al-Shabab has since claimed responsibility for the attack which saw a car loaded with explosives driven into the wall surrounding the compound.
No fewer than 10 people have been killed following an attack on a government complex in the Somalian capital,Mogadishu.
Islamic militants, al-Shabab has since claimed responsibility for the attack which saw a car loaded with explosives driven into the wall surrounding the compound, after which gunmen stormed the building and started shooting.
BBC reports that there were also some reports of a second large blast at the compound, which houses the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education as well as the Ministry of Petroleum.
Somali government spokesman Ridwan Abdiweli said a total of 17 people died in the attack including 8 civilians and 2 soldiers, one from the African Union Mission and the other from the Somali military. Seven al-Shabab fighters also died in the attack.
Eyewitness, Omar Mohamed, who is a trader who works near the scene, told Reuters news agency that he was thrown off his chair when the blasts went off.
He said attackers sprayed gunfire at security forces as they battled to retake the building while another witness Idil Malimtold AFP news agency that he had seen several dead bodies lying at the scene.
State radio cited reports that the ministry's director-general, Ismail Yusuf, was among the injured while the head of security at the ministry, who it named as Sandheere, was reported to be among the dead.
al-Shabab opposes the UN-backed administration and wants African Union forces to leave Somalia and its militants often launch attacks in the city having previously used car bombs to initiate attacks on fortified buildings.