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Mogadishu reels as truck bomb toll hits 137

As the rescue work continued, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmajo, declared three days of mourning as he visited the attack site and then met with some of the wounded at a nearby hospital.

Medics at that hospital told him they had treated around 205 patients, half of them whom were in serious condition, he said in a televised address to the nation.

“Today’s incident was a horrible attack carried out by Al-Shabab against innocent civilians that was not aimed at specific Somali government targets,” he said.

“This shows how these violent elements are ruthlessly and indiscriminately targeting innocent people who were busy minding their own business.”

– ‘Whole area destroyed’ –

Although the Safari Hotel was popular, it was not one frequented by government officials — which have often been targeted by Shabaab militants.

In any case, the devastation caused was widespread. Muhidin Ali, a Mogadishu resident who was close by at the time said it was, “the biggest blast I have ever witnessed, it destroyed the whole area.”

“We did not sleep last night and worked with rescue workers,” said Abdirisak Mohamed, one of the owners of a building that was destroyed, saying he believed there were still bodies under the rubble.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani wrote on Twitter that the country’s embassy had been badly damaged in the blast and one of its top officials wounded.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Somali Journalists said a freelance cameraman, Ali Nur Siyaad, had been killed and four other journalists wounded in the explosion.

The Shabaab was forced out of the capital six years ago by African Union and Somali troops, and subsequently lost control of major towns across southern Somalia.

However, the militants continue to control rural areas and launch attacks on military, government and civilian targets in Somalia, as well as terrorist raids in neighbouring Kenya.

Saturday’s blast came two days after Somalia’s defence minister and army chief both resigned from their posts without explanation.

The deadliest attacks in Somalia since 2010

– 2017 –

February 19: 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.

– 2016 –

February 29: 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.

– 2013 –

April 14: 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.

– 2012 –

January 24: The Shabaab take credit for a suicide attack that kills 33 soldiers at a military base housing Ethiopian peacekeeping troops in central Somalia.

– 2011 –

October 4: 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 the Shabaab since they were pushed out of Mogadishu.

– 2010 –

May 1: Twin bombings rock Mogadishu’s popular Bakara market and a nearby mosque, an Islamist bastion. At least 32 people are killed, the majority of them Shabaab members.

August 24: Thirty-three people including several MPs die after the Shabaab stage a suicide attack at a Mogadishu hotel frequented by lawmakers and top government officials.


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