According to Somalia‘s president, the country’s bloodiest attack since a truck explosion at the same location five years ago killed more than 500 people, at least 100 civilians were killed in Saturday’s twine-car explosions at a popular intersection in the capital.
At the scene of the blasts in Mogadishu, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud informed reporters that almost 300 additional people had been hurt.
“We ask our international partners and Muslims around the world to send their medical doctors here since we can’t send all the victims outside the country for treatment,” he said.
Al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab, an extremist group that frequently attacks the capital and governs vast portions of the nation, took credit and claimed it had targeted the education ministry.
It claimed the ministry was an “enemy base” that receives support from non-Muslim countries and “is committed to removing Somali children from the Islamic faith.”
Al-Shabab often avoids taking credit for mass casualty attacks like the 2017 explosion, but it has become incensed by the government’s high-profile current offensive that also attempts to shut down its financial network.
The group urged civilians to avoid government buildings and declared that it is committed to fighting until Islamic law is implemented nationwide.
The Republic of Somalia is still at war with al-Shabab, according to the country’s newly elected president, and “we are winning.”
The president, prime minister, and other senior officials were meeting that day to discuss stepping up efforts to combat violent extremism, particularly al-Shabab, when the incident in Mogadishu took place.
In response to the attack, the extremists, who want to establish an Islamic state, have killed key clan leaders in an apparent effort to erode popular support.
Emergency responders in Somalia, which has one of the poorest health systems in the world due to decades of violence, are overburdened as a result of the attack.
One Halima Duwane was searching for her uncle, Abdullahi Jama. “We don’t know whether he is dead or alive but the last time we communicated he was around here,” she said, crying.
Witnesses to the attack were stunned. “I couldn’t count the bodies on the ground due to the (number of) fatalities,” witness Abdirazak Hassan said. He said the first blast hit the perimeter wall of the education ministry, where street vendors and money changers were located.
The second explosion, according to an Associated Press reporter on the site, happened during noon in front of a packed restaurant. In a location with several restaurants and hotels, the explosions destroyed tuk-tuks and other cars.
One journalist was killed and two others were injured by the second blast while going to the scene of the first, according to the Somali Journalists Syndicate, citing coworkers and police. According to the Aamin ambulance service, one of its response cars was destroyed in the second bomb.
It was unclear right away how explosives-laden cars once more managed to reach the prominent spot in Mogadishu, a city dotted with checkpoints and constantly on guard for attacks.
Al-Shabab has been identified by the United States as one of al-Qaida’s deadliest organisations, and it has recently been the target of numerous airstrikes. Following their withdrawal under former President Donald Trump, hundreds of U.S. military personnel have returned to the nation.