At least 100 people have been killed in two car bombings outside the education ministry in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, the country's president says.
The blasts on Saturday shattered windows of nearby buildings at a busy intersection where the foreign ministry is located. At least 300 others were wounded, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on Sunday.
The first explosion hit the walls of the ministry building along K5 Street. The second blast occurred as ambulances arrived and people gathered to help the victims.
The attack occurred when the president, prime minister and other senior officials were meeting to discuss combating violent extremism, especially by the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab group that often targets the capital.
“The ruthless terrorists killed mothers. Some of them died with their children trapped on their backs,” Police spokesman Sadik Dudishe told reporters at a press briefing.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, although Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre blamed the Takfiri terrorist group by name.
Al-Shabab often targets high-profile locations with large numbers of civilians killed. Saturday’s explosions occurred at Zobe junction, the scene of a massive blast in 2017 that killed more than 500 people.
“I was among the first security officers to reach the area, I saw dead bodies of people most of them civilians including women and children,” said security officer Ahmed Ali.
Al-Shabab has been fighting Somalia’s central government for more than 15 years in an attempt to establish its own rule in the African country. Recently, the group has launched strikes on the Ethiopian border.
An African Union force pushed the al-Shabab militants out of the capital in 2011, but the group still controls swathes of countryside and frequently carries out gun and bomb attacks against both civilian and military targets. Its targets include busy traffic intersections, hotels, and military bases.
Somalia is also in the grip of a devastating drought that has driven one million people from their homes and left the country in the shadow of famine, according to the United Nations.
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