The death toll from a truck bombing in Somalia’s capital has risen above 300, the director of an ambulance service said Monday, as the fragile Horn of Africa nation reeled from the deadliest single attack it’s ever experienced.
More people died of their wounds in the past few hours, said Dr Abdulkadir Adam of Aamin Ambulance service. Funerals have begun, and the government said the death toll is expected to rise in what has become one of the world’s worst attacks in years.
Residents of Mogadishu, while wearily accustomed to regular bombs and attacks by militants, have been left stunned by the monster explosion Saturday which gutted surrounding buildings and left victims burned beyond recognition.
The government said it had set up an emergency committee to help relatives find the missing, with a crisis centre in the capital that residents can turn to.
Turkey sent a military plane full of medical supplies to Mogadishu on Monday, also evacuating some of the injured for treatment.
The blast occurred at a junction in Hodan, a bustling commercial district which has many shops, hotels and businesses in the city's northwest. Several experts said the truck was probably carrying at least 500kg of explosives.
There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Shabaab, a militant group aligned with al-Qaeda, carries out regular suicide bombings in Mogadishu in its bid to overthrow Somalia's internationally-backed government.
The group has a history of not claiming attacks whose scale provokes massive public outrage.
The previous deadliest assault took place in October 2011, when a truck bomb targeting a government office left 82 dead and 150 injured.
Saturday's blast, the worst in Somalia's history, came six years after Shabaab militants were pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union and Somali troops.
While they were also pushed out of major towns across southern Somalia the militants still control rural areas and launch attacks on military, government and civilian targets in Somalia, as well as terrorist raids in neighbouring Kenya.
According to the Nairobi-based Sahan thinktank, at least 723 people were killed and over 1,000 injured in bomb attacks in 2016 in Somalia.