90 killed, dozens injured after bomb-laden vehicle explodes at Mogadishu checkpoint: Report

Rescuers carried bodies past the twisted wreckage of a vehicle and a minibus taxi smeared with blood.
A general view shows the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia December 28, 2019(REUTERS)
A general view shows the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia December 28, 2019(REUTERS)
Updated on Dec 28, 2019 08:42 PM IST
Copy Link
Reuters | ByReuters

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 death 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.

Al Qaeda-linked Islamist group al Shabaab regularly carries out such attacks in an attempt to undermine the government, which is backed by the United Nations 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 in Saturday’s blast. The group has sometimes not claimed responsibility for attacks that sparked a big 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 into the city.

A car belonging to the engineers was destroyed instantly in the blast, the witnesses said.

Somali 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 hardworking men and women”, he wrote.

Turkey’s foreign ministry confirmed the death of two of its nationals.

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

The checkpoint is also a tax collection point for the government, Ali Abdi Ali Hoshow, a foreign affairs ministry official, said on Twitter.

‘SCREAMING FOR HELP’

After the explosion, 55-year-old Sabdow Ali, who lives nearby, said he left his house and counted at least 13 people dead.

“Dozens of injured people were screaming for help but the police immediately opened fire and I rushed back to my house,” he told Reuters.

The injured were transported to Medina Hospital, where a Reuters witness saw dozens arriving by ambulance. A nurse at the hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the facility had received more than 100 wounded people.

Relatives gathered at the hospital, weeping outside the entrance as they sought information on their loved ones.

Speaking to reporters at the blast site, Mogadishu Mayor Omar Muhamoud said the government confirmed at least 90 civilians, mostly students, had been injured.

Police officials were not immediately available for comment on casualty numbers.

The Horn of Africa country has been riven by conflict since 1991, when clan warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other.

Al Shabaab grew out of a political movement that used Islamic courts to try to impose order on the country. U.S.-backed Ethiopian soldiers defeated the Islamic Courts Union in 2006, but the movement’s youth wing split off and launched an insurgency.

Al Shabaab pledged loyalty to al Qaeda in 2012, as the insurgency battled African Union peacekeepers.

The group has also carried out attacks in east African countries such as Kenya and Uganda.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Newly-appointed French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne gestures as she attends a handover ceremony in the courtyard of Hotel Matignon in Paris, France.

    Macron names Elisabeth Borne as France's new prime minister

    Centrist politician Elisabeth Borne was appointed France's new prime minister on Monday, becoming only the second woman in history to hold the post. French President Emmanuel Macron's choice of Borne was criticized by some left-wing politicians and their supporters. Macron also promised a bill addressing the rising cost of living in France, where food and energy prices are surging. Macron vowed to go “twice as fast” in his second term to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Among other prominent speakers at the event include Vice President Kamala Harris, who is scheduled to deliver her address through a pre-recorded video.

    Indian American group to host summit gala in US this week

    An Indian American Democratic body is hosting a “Dream with Ambition” summit gala this week which will be addressed by Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Ami Bera, and Raja Krishnamoorthi -- the four Indian American lawmakers. Organised by the 'Indian American Impact' during the AAPI Heritage Month, the event on Wednesday will bring together more than 300 South Asian American community leaders, philanthropists, celebrities and organisers to celebrate and educate, a media release said.

  • Karine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary, speaks during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C.

    Biden’s new press secretary notes all ‘firsts’ at briefing: ‘I am a Black gay..’

    Karine Jean-Pierre held her first briefing as White House press secretary on Monday, observing that her ascension to the role of President Joe Biden's chief spokesperson broke race and sexual-orientation barriers. The daughter of Haitian parents, she was born in Martinique and raised in New York. Jean-Pierre served as former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki's principal deputy until Psaki's resignation on Friday. Jean-Pierre will be the seventh woman to hold the post.

  • FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong. (via REUTERS)

    Amid Covid outbreak, North Korea's Kim deploys army to battle ‘fever’: 5 points

    North Korea has deployed its army as the isolated nation battles a suspicious 'fever,' days after announcing its 'first' Covid-19 case. Even senior members of the ruling Workers' Party's powerful politburo were on the ground, visiting pharmacies and medicine management offices, after leader Kim Jong Un criticised 'ineffective distribution' of drugs, the state Korean Central News Agency said in a report on Tuesday. Overall, 663,910 citizens were under medical treatment.

  • FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective face masks commute amid concerns over the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Pyongyang, North Korea.

    6 more die of ‘fever’ in North Korea amid reports of Covid outbreak

    North Korea on Tuesday reported six additional deaths from "fever," days after announcing its first Covid case, and said it was ramping up the military distribution of medicines. Since the country announced its first Covid case last Thursday, leader Kim Jong Un has put himself front and centre of North Korea's disease response, overseeing near-daily emergency Politburo meetings on the outbreak, which he has said is causing "great upheaval" in the country.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, May 17, 2022