Mogadishu - At least nine people have been killed and seven others are wounded in a car bomb blast near a hotel in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, a Somali police officer said on Thursday.Captain Mohamed Hussein said the explosion occurred near the Weheliye hotel on the busy Makka Almukarramah road. The road has been a target of attacks in the past by the Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabaab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa.Most of the casualties were pedestrians and traders, Hussein told The Associated Press.Al-Shabaab frequently attacks Mogadishu's high-profile areas such as hotels and military checkpoints. A truck bombing in October killed 512 people in the country's deadliest-ever attack. Only a few attacks since 9/11 have killed more people. Al-Shabaab was blamed.Thursday's blast comes almost exactly a month after two car bomb blasts in Mogadishu shattered a months-long period of calm in the city, killing at least 21 people.KEEP UPDATED on the latest news from around the continent by subscribing to our FREE newsletter, Hello Africa.FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook. The Horn of Africa nation continues to struggle to counter the Islamic extremist group. Concerns have been high over plans to hand over the country's security to Somalia's own forces as a 21 000-strong African Union force begins a withdrawal that is expected to be complete in 2020.The US military, which has stepped up efforts against al-Shabaab in the past year with dozens of drone strikes, has said Somali forces are not yet ready.