An apparent gas explosion on Thursday killed at least four people and wounded a number of others near a shopping mall in the Qatari capital, an emergency official in the energy-rich Gulf nation said.

Initial reports suggest a burst gas cylinder was to blame for the blast, which happened shortly after 10 a.m. near the Landmark Mall in the capital, Doha, civil defense director of operations Gen. Hamid al-Naimi told state-backed Qatar TV. He did not say how many people were wounded.

The Ministry of Interior, which is responsible for police and emergency operations, said on its official Twitter feed that the blast happened at the Istanbul Restaurant. All roads leading to the scene have been shut down, it said.

Qatar TV aired pictures of damaged cars and smoke rising from near a gas station close to the shopping center. Injured bystanders were seen being wheeled to ambulances on stretchers while police officers examined the scene.

Qatar is a small, wealthy Gulf Arab state with abundant reserves of natural gas that will play host to the 2022 World Cup.

The OPEC member state is generally safe, with little violent crime or civil unrest.

source yahoo news