Mogadishu, Somalia: Abshir Abdi Ahmed, a senator says the death toll from Saturday’s massive truck bomb blast in Somalia’s capital has risen to 231, in what is the single deadliest attack ever in the Horn of Africa nation. Abshir Abdi Ahmed says 275 others were injured. He cites doctors at hospitals he has visited in Mogadishu.
Doctors are struggling to assist hundreds of horrifically wounded victims, with many burnt beyond recognition.
Many of the bodies in hospital mortuaries are yet to be identified.
Somalia’s government has blamed Saturday’s truck bombing in Mogadishu on the al-Shabab extremist group.
A statement by the U.S. mission to Somalia says that “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 U.S. military this year has stepped up drone strikes and other efforts this year against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, which is based in Somalia and often targets Mogadishu.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says four volunteers with the Somali Red Crescent Society are among the dead after a huge truck bombing in Somalia’s capital.
Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has joined thousands of people who responded to a desperate plea by hospitals to donate blood for the wounded victims.
Local police and state media reported a huge blast in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Saturday.
The blast, around 14.40pm, occurred when a truck loaded with explosives hit the city’s K5 Junction, near the Foreign Ministry and the Safari Hotel, which was partly destroyed. This is a busy road lined with government offices, hotels, and restaurants.
Local police forces reported a second attack in the Wadajir district (Madina district), near the old home of the national airline, Somalia Airlines.
The blast was reportedly targeting the Safari Hotel.
A police officer at the scene said the blast smashed doors, windowpanes and shook some buildings in the city.
Authorities have deployed a security force device in the affected area to prevent further attacks as health workers treat and transport the wounded.
Islamic terrorists, Al Shabab, who joined the Al Qaeda international network in 2012 claimed responsibility for the attacks
The al Qaeda-allied group is waging an campain to topple the weak U.N.backed government and its African Union allies and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam.
They frequently launch gun, grenade and bomb attacks in Mogadishu and other regions controlled by the federal government.
But in recent years, the militants have lost most territory under their control to African Union peacekeepers and government troops.
Al Shabab controls part of the territory in the center and south of the country and aims to establish a Wahhabi Islamic State in Somalia.
This East African country has been in a state of war and chaos since 1991, when dictator Mohamed Siad Barré was ousted, leaving the country without effective government and in the hands of radical Islamic militias, warlords who respond to interests of a particular clan and gangs of armed criminals.
This is a chronology of earlier Al Shabab attacks:
February 19, 2017: A car bomb explodes in a busy intersection in the capital Mogadishu, killing 39 people. No one claims responsibility but it comes on the day the Shabaab Islamist militants warn of a merciless war against the new president.
February 29, 2016: At least 30 people are killed and about 60 are wounded in twin bombings in the southwestern city of Baidoa, claimed by the al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab.
April 14, 2013: A nine-man suicide attack squad blasts its way into Mogadishu’s main court complex in a rampage that leaves 29 civilians dead, while a separate bomb attack kills five more.
January 24, 2012: Al Shabab take credit for a suicide attack that kills 33 soldiers at a military base housing Ethiopian peacekeeping troops in central Somalia.
October 4, 2011: At least 82 people die and 150 are injured in a truck bombing at the ministerial complex of the transitional government. It is the first attack claimed by Al Shabab since they were pushed out of Mogadishu.
May 1, 2010: Twin bombings rock Mogadishu’s popular Bakara market and a nearby mosque, an Islamist bastion. At least 32 people are killed, the majority are Al Shabab members.
August 24, 2010: Thirty-three people including several MPs die after Al Shabab stage a suicide attack at a Mogadishu hotel frequented by lawmakers and top government officials.