Car bombs at busy Somalia market intersection killed at least 100, president says

MOGADISHU, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Two car bombs exploded at Somalia’s Ministry of Education, near a market road, killing at least 100 people and wounding 300, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on Sunday, warning that the death toll could rise.

Mogadishu’s K5 street is usually packed with people buying and selling everything from food, clothes and water to foreign currency and khat, a rare herb, but it was quiet on Sunday, as emergency workers were still cleaning up blood from the streets and houses.

Saturday’s attack was the deadliest since a car bomb exploded at the same intersection in October 2017, killing more than 500 people.

There was no immediate comment, but Mohamud blamed the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group al Shabaab.

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The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, condemned the attack and called on the international community to “increase their efforts to support Somali organizations in their fight against terrorism”.

The first explosion occurred at the Ministry of Education at around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The second explosion occurred when ambulances arrived and people gathered to help the victims.

Mohamed Moalim, who owns a small restaurant near the intersection, said his wife, Fardawsa Mohamed, a mother of six, rushed to the scene immediately after the first explosion to try to help.

“We failed to stop him,” he said. “He was killed by the second explosion.”

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President Mohamud said some of the injured are in critical condition and the death toll could rise.

“Our people who were killed … include mothers with their children in their arms, fathers who were sick, students who were sent to study, businessmen who are fighting for the lives of their families,” he said after visiting the site.

Al-Shabaab militants, who seek to overthrow the government and establish their own regime based on an extreme interpretation of Islamic law, often carry out attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere. But the group has often shied away from claiming responsibility for the deadly attacks.

With support from the United States and allied forces, the president has launched a campaign against al Shabaab, although the results have been limited.

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Abdullahi Aden said his friend, Ilyas Mohamed Warsame, was killed while traveling in his three-wheeled tuk tuk taxi to see relatives before returning to his home in Britain.

“We recognized the number of the tuk tuk, which was now abandoned,” Aden said.

“Exhausted and overwhelmed, we found his body in the middle of the night in the hospital,” he said. “I can’t get that picture out of my mind.”

Abdiqani Hassan reports; By Elias Biryabarema; Edited by William Mallard, Alexandra Zavis and Nick Macfie

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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