More than 200 people were killed in near simultaneous bombings in the Somali capital and more than 250 people were injured, officials said on Sunday, marking the most deadly such attack by Somalia’s al Shabaab insurgency.
‘We have confirmed 200 civilians died in yesterday’s blast. We understand the death toll is higher than that. Many people are still missing their relatives,’ Abdifatah Omar Halane, the spokesman for Mogadishu mayor, said.
A spokesman for the Aamin ambulance service said it knew of more than 250 people wounded during the bombings on Saturday.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo declared three days of national mourning and called for donations of blood and funds to victims of Saturday’s attack.
Police said a truck bomb exploded outside a hotel in the K5 intersection that is lined with government offices, restaurants and kiosks, flattening several buildings and setting dozens of vehicles on fire.
Two hours later, another blast struck the capital’s Medina district.
‘The number of dead has risen to over 200. We know some 250 who were injured,’ Mohamed Hussein, a police official, said, giving combined figures of casualties. He said the toll was likely to rise. Police previously said 85 people had died.
On Sunday, police and emergency workers searched the rubble of destroyed buildings. They also recovered dozens of corpses the night before, most of which were charred beyond recognition.
Hundreds of people came to the junction in search of missing family members and police cordoned off the area for security reasons.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although the Islamist militant group al Shabaab, which is allied to al Qaeda, stages regular attacks in the capital and other parts of the country.
The group is waging an insurgency against the UN-backed government and its African Union allies in a bid to topple the weak administration and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam.
The militants controlled Mogadishu between 2007 and 2011 but withdrew as fighting raged. African Union peacekeepers also drove them out of most other territory they controlled.
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