Car bomb at busy Somali market intersection kills at least 100, president says

MOGADISHU, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Two car bombs at the Somali Ministry of Education near a busy market intersection have killed at least 100 people and left 300 others, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed said on Sunday. injured and warned the death toll could rise.

Mogadishu’s K5 intersection is usually crowded with people buying and selling everything from food, clothing and water to foreign currency and khat, a mild numbing leaf, but it was quiet on Sunday as emergency workers were still clearing the streets and blood on buildings.

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

No one immediately claimed responsibility, but Mohammed blamed al-Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaeda.

The head of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, condemned the attack and urged the international community to “redouble our efforts to ensure strong international support for Somali institutions in their fight against terrorist groups”.

The first explosion hit the Ministry of Education around 2pm. The second explosion occurred as ambulances arrived and people gathered to help victims.

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

“We couldn’t stop her,” he said. “She was killed by the second explosion.”

President Mohammed said some of the wounded were in serious condition and the death toll could rise.

“We were slaughtered … including mothers with children in their arms, fathers with health problems, students sent to study, businessmen struggling with family life,” he said after a tour of the site.

Al-Shabaab militants, who seek to overthrow the government and establish their own rule based on extreme interpretations of Islamic law, regularly carry out attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere. But the group has generally avoided claiming responsibility for attacks that have resulted in numerous casualties.

Backed by U.S. and allied local militias, the president launched an offensive against al-Shabaab, albeit with limited results.

Abdullahi Aden said his friend Ilyas Mohamed Warsame was killed on a trip to visit family before his three-wheeled “tuk tuk” taxi returned to his home in the UK.

“We recognized the license plate of the tuk-tuk, which is now rubble,” Aden said.

“Exhausted and desperate, we found his body in hospital last night,” he said. “I can’t shake the image in my head.”

Reporting by Abdiqani Hassan; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by William Mallard, Alexandra Zavis and Nick Macfie

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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