The PSNI say a police vehicle was damaged in the attack but none of the officers on board were injured.
Local Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey said that a family travelling close to the scene also escaped serious injury in the “reckless attack” around 10.30 pm.
He said the car was hit by “flying shrapnel” following the attack on the police vehicle.
“This was the work of dissident republicans. They should be ashamed of themselves,” added Mr Maskey.
Paramedics based at the nearby Royal Victoria Hospital rushed to the scene and treated four civilians for shock.
The force of the blast has been heard across large parts of the city.
The source of the explosion has been pinpointed to the bottom of the Whiterock Road with its junction with the Falls Road.
It is not known the cause of the explosion but it is being speculated that it was either a pipe bomb or blast bomb type device.
In the past, such devices have hurled at passing police patrols by dissident terrorists lurking in the shadows under the cover of darkness.
The attack comes 12 hours after a booby trap bomb fell of the underside of a police officer’s car on the Suffolk Road.