Truck rolls over vehicles and explodes – hundreds dead and injured in mogadishu

Police official ali hassan kulmiye told the german press agency in mogadishu on sunday. The head of madina hospital, mohamed yusuf, confirmed the death of 221 people, erdogan hospital said another ten were dead.

In addition, the explosion of a truck bomb in the center of mogadishu on saturday injured about 300 people. Several victims have been recovered from the debris of damaged or destroyed buildings, said police officer mohamed dahir.

Initially, no one claimed responsibility for the attack. But information minister abdirahman yarisow blamed the sunni terror militia al-shabaab. What exactly was the target of the attack was initially unclear. There are several hotels, stores, restaurants and government buildings in the area. Eyewitnesses said a hotel popular with government officials, journalists and somalis returning from abroad may have been the target of the attack.

The attack is a national tragedy, somalia's president mohamed abdullahi mohamed told state radio. He urged people to donate blood for the wounded and declared a three-day national mourning.

A truck was speeding along a road on saturday, running over or pushing away motorcycles and cars stuck in a traffic jam, eyewitnesses said. Security forces had tried to push the driver, but he reached one of the busiest intersections in mogadishu and blew himself and the car up.

The explosion caused massive damage to surrounding buildings, reported a dpa reporter who was nearby at the time of the attack. Windows broke and doors were torn from their hinges hundreds of meters away. Some buildings partially collapsed. The mayor of mogadishu, thaabid abdi, rushed to the scene of the attack and called for excavators to clear away debris and recover victims.

"I have never seen such a bad attack", said ahmed hassan, an eyewitness. "The destruction looks like after an earthquake." Another eyewitness, abdiasis qorane, said his car was one of more than a hundred vehicles burned out by the explosion. "There was blood everywhere", he said.

Information minister yarisow condemned the attack. "The government is working to gather information on the exact death toll from this horrific attack by terrorists", he said on state radio.

Shortly after the explosion, a second attack occurred, police officer ali hassan said. However, security forces were able to prevent the suicide bomber, who blew himself up in a car, from injuring or killing more people.

Al-shabaab attacks continue to occur in somalia. Sunni militants linked to the al-qaeda terrorist network want to establish a so-called god-state with a strict interpretation of islamic law (sharia) in the country on the horn of africa. A 22,000-strong african union (AU) force is supporting somali forces in the fight against the terrorist militia.

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