Africa News

358 dead, 228 injured in Somalia’s largest-ever bombing

Photo from the scene of the Mogadishu truck bombing, October 14th, 2017. Photo: Twitter/AaminAmbulance

358 people were killed and 228 people were injured in Somalia’s largest-ever truck bomb attack around 3:25 p.m. local time on Saturday, October 14th. The death toll was raised on Friday, October 20th.

A press release from the Somali government says they expected the death toll to rise as they sift through the rubble of buildings near the blast. 56 people are still missing.

A second blast in which reportedly two were killed was also reported a few minutes after by the UK ambassador to Mogadishu, who said that the first was heard ‘clearly’ from within the British Embassy. The ambassador said on Twitter that the UK ‘expresses its deepest sympathy to – and solidarity with – the [government] and people of Somalia.’

Somali President Mohamed Farmaajo has declared three days of mourning for the victims of the bombing, with flags flying at half-mast. It is ‘time to unite and pray together. Terror won’t win,” he said.

According to a witness account, the truck entered a busy part of the city – the KM5 junction – near the Safari Hotel where hotels, restaurants, and government offices are located before exploding. The shopping area is described to be one of the busiest, and cars regularly queue during afternoon traffic.

A freelance cameraman is among those killed by the blast, and four other journalists were wounded. Medical personnel also told Goobjoog News that 15 primary school students were killed when their bus was hit by the explosion.

“We haven’t seen anything like this”

According to a translation from VOA News, the mayor of Mogadishu is asking for civilians in the area to assist the relief efforts: “This is a disaster. We ask all Somalis to reach us, to help us in the search of dead bodies under the debris. We appeal to the doctors, to those who have digging machines.”

The Aamin Ambulance medical service called the attack unprecedented: “In our 10 year experience as the first responder in #Mogadishu, we haven’t seen anything like this.” The ambulance service transported approximately 250 of those injured in the attack and approximately 75 dead.

Local Goobjoog News journalists reported that Medina Hospital received the vast majority of the victims from the attack, and saw 218 of those killed. Around 130 of the bodies at the hospital have not yet been identified, according to Dr. Mohamed Yusuf. Some have been ‘burned beyond recognition,’ he told Goobjoog.

A military transport plane with ambulances was flown in to Mogadishu by the Turkish government to assist those in need. In a directive from the Turkish president’s office, some of the injured in the attack will be flown from Somalia to Turkey for treatment, where needed. 40 of the injured were reported to have been taken to Turkey for treatment on Sunday.. The president’s spokesperson also condemned the attack.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the families of those who perished and wish a speedy recovery to individuals injured in the blasts. The United States lauds the heroic response of the Somali security forces and first responders and Somali citizens who rushed to the aid of their brothers and sisters.”

U.S. Mission to Somalia statement

The African Union Mission in Somalia and the United Nations condemned the attack and said that they are working to support the response by the Federal Government of Somalia and local authorities. “The international community will do everything possible to help the people and government of Somalia to overcome this tragedy.”

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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