MOGADISHU – Somalia’s president says at least 100 people were killed Saturday in twin car bombings at a busy intersection in the capital, with the death toll likely to rise in the country’s deadliest attack since a truck bomb in the same location five years ago killed more than 500 people.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told reporters at the scene of the explosions in Mogadishu that almost 300 more people were injured. “We are asking our international partners and Muslims around the world to send their doctors here, as we cannot send all the injured abroad for treatment,” he said.

The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab extremist group, which frequently attacks the capital and controls large parts of the country, claimed responsibility, saying it had targeted the education ministry. It claimed the ministry was a “hostile base” that received support from non-Muslim countries and “seeks to wean Somali children from the Islamic faith.”

Al-Shabaab does not normally claim responsibility when large numbers of civilians are killed, as was the case in the 2017 bombing, but it has been angered by the government’s high-profile new offensive, which also aims to shut down its financial network. The group said it was committed to fighting until Islamic law ruled the country and asked civilians to stay away from government areas.

Somalia’s president, elected this year, said the country was continuing its war with al-Shabaab, “and we are winning.”

The attack in Mogadishu came on a day when the president, prime minister and other senior officials were meeting to discuss expanding efforts to counter violent extremism, particularly the al-Shabaab group. Extremists seeking to establish an Islamic state responded to the offensive by killing prominent clan leaders in an apparent attempt to dissuade popular support.

The attack overwhelmed first responders in Somalia, where the health system is one of the weakest in the world after decades of conflict. In hospitals and elsewhere, frantic relatives peered under plastic wrap and into body bags, looking for loved ones.

Halima Duwane was looking for her uncle Abdullahi Jama. “We don’t know if he’s alive or dead, but the last time we spoke, he was here,” she said, crying.

Witnesses of the attack were stunned. “I couldn’t count the bodies on the ground because of the (number of) dead,” said witness Abdirazak Hasan. He said that the first explosion rang out around the perimeter wall of the Ministry of Education, where street vendors and money changers were located.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene said the second explosion occurred in front of a busy restaurant at lunchtime. The explosions destroyed tuk-tuks and other vehicles in the area of ​​many restaurants and hotels.

The Somali Syndicate of Journalists, citing its colleagues and the police, said one journalist was killed and two others wounded in a second blast as he was rushing to the scene of the first. Aamin Ambulance Service said a second blast destroyed one of the vehicles that came to help.

It was not immediately clear how the explosives-laden vehicles had once again reached the landmark in Mogadishu, a city rife with checkpoints and constantly on the alert for attacks.

The United States has named al-Shabaab as one of al-Qaeda’s deadliest affiliates and has carried out dozens of airstrikes against it in recent years. Hundreds of US troops have returned to the country after former President Donald Trump recalled them.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, copied or distributed without permission.

Source by [author_name]

Previous articleAstros surge ahead, beat Phillies 5-2 to tie World Series at 1-1
Next articleArmed Indiana residents beat up a suspected burglar who broke into their apartment