MOGADISHU (REUTERS, AFP) - More than 200 people were killed in near simultaneous bombings in the Somali capital and more than 250 people were injured, officials said on Sunday (Oct 15), marking the most deadly such attack by Somalia’s al Shabaab insurgency.
“We have confirmed 200 civilians died in yesterday’s blast. We understand the death toll is higher than that. Many people are still missing their relatives,” Abdifatah Omar Halane, the spokesman for Mogadishu mayor, told Reuters.
A spokesman for the Aamin Ambulance service said it knew of more than 250 people wounded during the bombings on Saturday.
Officials said it was one of the worst-ever bombings in this war-torn east African country.
"This is the deadliest attack ever," police official Ibrahim Mohamed said.
"It is very difficult to get a precise number because the dead bodies were taken to different medical centres and some of them (were taken) directly by their relatives for burial.
"What I have seen at the hospitals I have visited is unspeakable," said Mogadishu mayor Tabid Abdi Mohamed.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo declared three days of national mourning and called for donations of blood and funds to victims of Saturday's attack.
Police said a truck bomb exploded outside a hotel in the K5 intersection that is lined with government offices, restaurants and kiosks, flattening several buildings and setting dozens of vehicles on fire.
Two hours later, another blast struck the capital's Medina district.
Police previously said 85 people had died, with some 100 who were injured.
On Sunday, police and emergency workers searched the rubble of destroyed buildings. They also recovered dozens of corpses the night before, most of which were charred beyond recognition.
Hundreds of people came to the junction in search of missing family members and police cordoned off the area for security reasons.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, which is allied to Al-Qaeda, stages regular attacks in the capital and other parts of the country.
The group is waging an insurgency against the UN-backed government and its African Union allies in a bid to topple the weak administration and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam.
The militants controlled Mogadishu between 2007 and 2011 but withdrew as fighting raged. African Union peacekeepers also drove them out of most other territory they controlled.