- According to AFP, there were at least 76 dead, and that the number is likely increase.
- Reuters, on it's part, has reported that there are 90 dead.
- For now, the attack has not been claimed by any terror group organization.
A car bomb blast on Saturday in a busy area of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, left dozens dead and injured in one of the worst attacks in the country in years. Saturday is a working day in the Muslim-dominated country, and the blast occurred during rush hour in the morning, leaving the site full of debris and burned and bloody vehicles. There is a discrepancy in the death toll, which has not yet been confirmed by the local authorities.
According to AFP, the director of an ambulance service said there were at least 76 and that the number is likely increase. Reuters, on it’s part, has reported that there are 90 dead, citing an international organization that operates in the country and did not want to have the name disclosed. A local Member of Parliament, Abduruzak Mohamed, wrote on his Twitter account that he was also informed of more than 90 deaths, including 17 police officers, 73 civilians and four foreigners.
Mogadishu Mayor Omar Mohamud Mohamed told a news conference that at least 90 people were injured and the exact death toll is unknown. According to him, most of the victims are “innocent students and other civilians.” Mohamed also said two Turkish citizens, apparently civil engineers working on road construction, were among the dead.
For now, the attack has not been claimed by any terror group organization, but attacks of this kind are frequent in the region, where Al Qaeda-linked Islamist terrorist group Al Shabaab is very active. The bloodiest attack in the country’s history occurred in October 2017, when a truck bomb exploded in the capital, killing 512 people and injuring 295. The action was claimed by Al Shabaab.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed says he has ordered his government to provide all necessary resources to support the wounded and the families of the dead. “The terrorists have massacred the population because they are enemies of the country’s development,” he said in a statement.
A witness reported to AFP that he saw a bus full of students passing through the area when the explosion occurred. Another person said he saw “scattered bodies and some burned, unrecognizable.” Somalia has been ravaged by conflict since 1991, when clan leaders overthrew dictator Siad Barre and then began fighting each other.
Al Shabaab was born of a political movement that used Islamic courts to try to impose order on the country. US-backed Ethiopian troops defeated the Islamic Courts Union in 2006, but the youth wing of the movement broke up and launched an insurgency, promising to overthrow the UN-backed Somali government and 20,000 African Union force troops. The group pledged allegiance to al Qaeda in 2012, and is currently estimated to have 5,000 to 9,000 members.
The African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia since 2007 has been gradually withdrawing its troops from Somalia in recent years. The Somali military is expected to take responsibility for security next year, although the exact date of withdrawal has been repeatedly changed.
The group, which targets hotels, government offices and public spaces, was expelled from Mogadishu in 2011, losing most of its bastions. However, it remains powerful in some parts of the country, where it plans guerrilla operations and suicide bombings, including in the capital. It also operates in the neighboring country Kenya.