Somalia suffers deadliest attack in its history after horrific twin truck bombs
THE death toll from the most powerful bomb blast witnessed in Somalia’s capital rose to 276 with more than 200 injured, making it the deadliest single attack ever in the Horn of Africa nation, police and hospital sources said.
Doctors struggled to assist horrifically wounded victims, many burnt beyond recognition. Officials feared the toll would continue to climb from Saturday’s twin truck bombs that targeted a busy street near key ministries.
The latest update on the death toll came from the country’s information minister.
Somalia’s government blamed the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab extremist group for the attack it called a “national disaster”. However, al-Shabab, which often targets high-profile areas of the capital with bombings, had yet to comment.
“They don’t care about the lives of Somali people, mothers, fathers and children,” Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire said.
“They have targeted the most populated area in Mogadishu, killing only civilians.”
Somalia’s information minister, Abdirahman Omar, 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, speaking to the state-run radio station.
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.
Grief overwhelmed many.
“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.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed declared three days of mourning and joined thousands of people who responded to a desperate plea by hospitals to donate blood for the wounded victims.
“I am appealing to all Somali people to come forward and donate,” he 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,” said Dr Mohamed Yusuf, the director of Medina hospital.
Overnight, rescue workers with flashlights searched for survivors trapped under the rubble of the largely destroyed Safari Hotel, which is close to Somalia’s foreign ministry. The explosion blew off metal gates and blast walls erected outside the hotel.
WORLD LEADERS CONDEMN BOMBING
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull condemned the attack.
“Australia’s heartfelt sympathies are with the people of Somalia after a brutal terrorist attack killed hundreds and injured many more,” Mr Turnbull said in a statement on Twitter.
Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong also condemned the “senseless slaughter” which she said was “an attack on all of humanity”.
The Senator has called for international support for the Somali people.
“We grieve for the families of the victims and the Somali people,” she said in a statement.
“And our thoughts are with the Somali community in Australia as they deal with the grief and suffering of their families and friends in Mogadishu.
“With a death toll approaching 300, appalling injuries inflicted on many more and the destruction of a large area of the Mogadishu CBD, this attack reminds us of the brutal and indiscriminate nature of terrorism.
“It is important that the international community acts together to defeat international terrorist groups and to support the Somali people.”
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said his country “condemns in the strongest terms the cowardly attacks in Mogadishu, which have claimed so many innocent lives”.
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “Solidarity with Somalia. Support to the African Union against Islamist terrorist groups. France stands by your side.”
“The attacks in Somalia are horrifying & Canada condemns them strongly. We mourn with the Canadian Somali community today,” Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted.
The United States condemned the bombing “in the strongest terms” in a statement released by the State Department.
Washington “will continue to stand with the Somali government, its people, and our international allies to combat terrorism and support their efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity,” the statement added.
Local journalists say one freelance journalist was killed in Saturday’s massive bombing in Somalia’s capital and several were injured.
Voice of America says one of its reporters, Abdulkaidr Mohamed Abdulle, is among the injured.
The United States 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-Shabab, which is also fighting the Somali military and over 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 with Somalia’s president, and two days after the country’s defence minister and army chief resigned for undisclosed reasons.