A truck bomb exploded at a busy security checkpoint in Somalia’s capital Saturday morning, killing at least 76 people including many students, authorities said. It was one of the deadliest attacks in Mogadishu in recent memory, and witnesses said the force of the blast reminded them of the devastating 2017 bombing that killed hundreds.
The toll could rise as scores of people were rushed to hospitals, government spokesman Ismail Mukhtar told The Associated Press. Dr Mohamed Yusuf, director of Madina hospital, said they had received 73 bodies.
The Aamin Ambulance service reported at least 76 dead and more than 50 wounded. Most of those killed were university and other students returning to class, Mayor Omar Mohamud Mohamed said at the scene.
Two Turkish brothers were among the dead, Somalia’s foreign minister said. Police Capt Mohamed Hussein said the blast targeted a tax collection center during the morning rush hour as Somalia returned to work after its weekend.
A large black plume of smoke rose above the capital. Images showed the mangled frames of vehicles and bodies lying on the ground. At a hospital, families and friends picked through dozens of bodies. “I saw many dead bodies lying on the ground,” witness Mohamed Abdi Hakim said. “Some of those dead were police officers, but most of them were students.” There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The al-Qaeda-linked al- Shabab often carries out such attacks. The extremist group was pushed out of Mogadishu several years ago but continues to target high-profile areas such as checkpoints and hotels in the seaside city. (AP)