In what has been described as the deadliest terror attack in Somalia since the Islamist al-Shabab group launched its insurgency in 2007, a massive bomb attack in a busy area of the capital Mogadishu on Saturday killed at least 230 people. Hundreds more were reportedly wounded when a lorry packed with explosives detonated near the entrance of a hotel.
Police said the truck bomb exploded outside the Safari Hotel at the K5 intersection, which is lined with government offices, restaurants and kiosks, flattening buildings and setting vehicles on fire. A separate blast struck the Medina district two hours later. Police official Ibrahim Mohamed told AFP news agency the death toll was likely to rise. “There are more than 300 wounded, some of them seriously,” he said.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo blamed the attack on al-Shabab, calling it a “heinous act”. “Brothers, this cruel act was targeted at civilians who were going about their business,” the president said, declaring three days of national mourning.
No group has yet said it was behind the bombing although al-Shabaab has carried out regular attacks.
The al Qaeda-allied group is waging an insurgency to topple the internationally-recognised government and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam.
The terrorists frequently launch gun, grenade and bomb attacks in Mogadishu and other regions controlled by the federal government, though in recent years the militants have lost most territory under their control to African Union peacekeepers and government troops.
Adira Kallo with agency report