In this file photo armed al-Shabaab fighters ride on pickup trucks as they prepare to travel into the city, just outside the capital Mogadishu, in Somalia on Dec. 8, 2008. AP
"The initial information we have received confirms the death of nine people" including state ministers and commissioners, said Mohamed Moalim Ali, a local police commander.
At least 10 others were injured in "suicide attacks" when two cars loaded with explosives were detonated about five minutes apart outside district headquarters in Beledweyne, he added.
Among the dead was the state's health minister and a deputy district commissioner, police said.
Beledweyne lies about 300 kilometres (200 miles) north of Somalia's capital Mogadishu.
Witnesses described a smaller blast followed by a massive second explosion.
"The explosion was huge, and it destroyed most buildings" nearby, said Mohamud Addow, who witnessed the attack.
"I saw several people rushed to hospital and some dead bodies... some were unrecognisable."
Al-Shabaab, a militant group allied to Al-Qaeda that has been fighting Somalia's government for 15 years, claimed responsibility for the attack.