More than 200 injured in Somalia’s deadliest ever attack which government has blamed on militant group al-Shabaab
At least 189 people have been killed in the most powerful explosion to rock Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, with more than 200 injured – making it the deadliest attack ever in the country, police and hospital sources have said.
Doctors struggled to treat horrifically wounded victims on Sunday. Officials fear the death toll will continue to climb after Saturday’s truck bomb, which targeted a busy street near key ministries.
Ambulance sirens still echoed across the city as bewildered families wandered in the rubble of buildings, looking for missing relatives. “In our 10-year experience as the first responder in #Mogadishu, we haven’t seen anything like this,” the Aamin ambulance service tweeted.
Many people were overwhelmed with grief. “There’s nothing I can say. We have lost everything,” wept Zainab Sharif, a mother of four who lost her husband. She sat outside a hospital where he was pronounced dead after hours of efforts by doctors to save him from an arterial injury.
Maryan Abdullahi was also among those killed. The 22-year-old had been due to graduate from university. Amino Ahmed, Abdullahi’s classmate, said: “A sad day. Her family was so proud of her and were counting the hours before her graduation. The life of a rising star was sadly cut short.”
As stories of the victims emerged, bewildered family members were still picking their way through the rubble on Sunday. Ambulance sirens wailed, and overwhelmed hospitals pleaded for blood donations.
The Somali president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, declared three days of national mourning and joined thousands of people who responded to a plea by hospitals to donate blood for the wounded. “I am appealing all Somali people to come forward and donate,” he said.
Dr Mohamed Yusuf, the director of the city’s Medina hospital, said: ‘The hospital is overwhelmed by both dead and wounded. We also received people whose limbs were cut away by the bomb. This is really horrendous, unlike any other time in the past.”
Overnight, rescue workers searched for survivors under the rubble of the largely destroyed Safari hotel, close to Somalia’s foreign ministry. The explosion blew off metal gates and blast walls erected outside the hotel.
Somalia’s government blamed the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab extremist group for the attack.
However, al-Shabaab, which often targets high-profile areas of the capital with bombings, has yet to comment.
“They don’t care about the lives of Somali people, mothers, fathers and children,” the prime minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, said. “They have targeted the most populated area in Mogadishu, killing only civilians.”
Somalia’s information minister, Abdirahman Omar Osman, said the blast was the largest the city had ever seen. “It’s a sad day. This is how merciless and brutal they are, and we have to unite against them,” he said.
The US joined the condemnation, saying: “Such cowardly attacks reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism.”
The US military has stepped up drone strikes and other efforts this year against al-Shabaab, which is also fighting the Somali military and more than 20,000 African Union forces in the country.
Saturday’s blast occurred two days after the head of the US Africa command was in Mogadishu to meet Somalia’s president, and two days after the country’s defence minister and army chief resigned for undisclosed reasons.
Source: The Guardian