At least 90 people killed in Mogadishu blast

The blast occurred at a busy intersection southwest of Mogadishu where traffic is heavy because of a security checkpoint and a tax office

December 28, 2019 04:36 pm | Updated 09:28 pm IST - Mogadishu

A Somali man stands at the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia on December 28, 2019.

A Somali man stands at the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia on December 28, 2019.

At least 90 people were killed and dozens were wounded when a bomb-laden vehicle exploded at a bustling checkpoint in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday, an international organisation working in the country said, in one of the most deadly recent attacks.

The dead included many students and two Turkish nationals, the Somali Foreign Minister said. Rescuers carried bodies past the twisted wreckage of a vehicle and a minibus taxi smeared with blood.

A report by the international organisation, which did not want to be named, said the death toll was more than 90. A Somali MP also tweeted that he had been told the toll stands at more than 90, including 17 police officers.

Abdikadir Abdirahman Haji Aden, founder of Aamin ambulances, told Reuters that dozens of people were also wounded.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.

Continuing attacks

The al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group, al-Shabaab, regularly carries out such attacks to undermine the government, which is backed by the UN and African Union troops. The most deadly attack blamed on the group was in October 2017 when a bomb-laden truck exploded next to a fuel tanker in Mogadishu, creating a storm of fire that killed nearly 600 people. While al-Shabaab carries out frequent attacks, the death tolls are often lower than that of Saturday’s blast. The group has sometimes not claimed responsibility for attacks that sparked a public backlash, such as a 2009 suicide bombing of a graduation ceremony for medical students.

Three witnesses told Reuters that a small team of Turkish engineers were present at the time of the blast at the Ex-Control checkpoint, constructing a road from the checkpoint to the city. A car belonging to the engineers was destroyed instantly, the witnesses said.

Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad later tweeted that two of the Turkish engineers died in the blast. Many of the dead were “students with ambition, and hard-working men and women”, he wrote.

Turkey has been a major donor to Somalia since a famine in 2011 and, together with the government of Qatar, is funding infrastructure and medical projects. In 2017, Turkey opened a military base in Mogadishu to train Somali soldiers.

The checkpoint is also a point for tax collection, Ali Abdi Ali Hoshow, a Foreign Affairs Ministry official, wrote on on Twitter.

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