(Adds seven dead, comment from police and witness)
MOGADISHU, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Seven people were killed when a car bomb exploded on Thursday near the entrance of Mogadishu's heavily guarded international airport where many foreign diplomats are based, police said.
Police suspect al Qaeda-linked Islamist group al Shabaab of planting the remotely-controlled bomb. Al Shabaab did not immediately claim responsibility.
"A car laden with explosives was remotely exploded in front of a tea shop just outside the airport," senior police officer Colonel Abdikadir Ahmed told Reuters.
"So far we have confirmed 7 people dead and 15 others injured. Many cars got burnt. We believe al Shabaab was behind the attack."
Ahmed Omar, a member of airport staff, said a deafening blast rang out near the airport and then the "sky was covered with smoke".
Although al Shabaab were pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011 by African Union peacekeeping troops, they have carried out several bombings in Mogadishu targeting government officials and foreign nationals. (Reporting by Feisal Omar and Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by James Macharia)