Civilians evacuate scene of explosion in Mogadishu
Civilians evacuate scene of explosion in Mogadishu Reuters

Two hundred and thirty-one people were killed and more than 270 injured in the deadliest attack to have occurred in Somalia, police and hospital sources said on Sunday.

Blast victims were reported badly injured, many burnt beyond recognition and the grim statistics from yesterday's truck bomb that exploded on a busy street near key ministries are expected to climb.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed declared a three day mourning period. He, along with thousands, responded to a hospital plea to donate blood for the wounded victims. “I am appealing to all Somali people to come forward and donate,” he said.

Wounded at attack scene, Mogadishu
Wounded at attack scene, Mogadishu Reuters

“The hospital is overwhelmed by both dead and wounded. We also received people whose limbs were cut away by the bomb. This is really horrendous, unlike any other time in the past,” said Dr. Mohamed Yusuf, the director of Medina hospital, reported the Times of Israel.

Rescue workers with flashlights searched through the night for survivors trapped under the rubble of the mostly destroyed Safari Hotel, close to Somalia’s Foreign Ministry. The forceful explosion buckled metal gates and blast walls erected outside the hotel.

Scene of explosion in Mogadishu
Scene of explosion in Mogadishu צילום: Reuters

Somalia’s government blamed the al-Shabaab anti-government jihadist group aligned with al Qaeda for the attack calling it a “national disaster.” Islamist Al-Shabaab, which tries to target high-profile areas of the capital with bombings, has so far not commented.

“They don’t care about the lives of Somali people, mothers, fathers and children,” Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire said. “They have targeted the most populated area in Mogadishu, killing only civilians.”

Somalia’s Information Minister, Abdirahman Omar, said the blast was the largest the city had ever seen. “It’s a sad day. This is how merciless and brutal they are, and we have to unite against them,” he said, speaking to the state-run radio station.

Al-Shabaab has been designated as a terrorist organization by Australia, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The United States condemned the attack. "Such cowardly attacks reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism," the U.S. mission to Somalia said in a statement.