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Suicide bomb attack causes massive casualties in Somali capital city

China Daily | Updated: 2019-12-30 09:55

A Somali police officer walks past the wreckage at the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Saturday. [FEISAL OMAR/REUTERS]

MOGADISHU-A suicide car bombing in Somalia's capital city on Saturday has left at least 79 dead and 149 others injured so far. Somali and United Nations leaders have condemned the terrorist attack.

Somali government spokesman Ismael Mukhtar Omar confirmed the death toll from the suicide bomb attack, which occurred at a checkpoint on Afgoye road on the outskirts of Mogadishu.

The Somali government "strongly condemns this despicable act of terrorism", said Omar, who added that a commission appointed by Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire visited the hospitals treating those injured.

Most of those killed were university students returning to class and police officers, said Somalia's police chief General Abdi Hassan Hijar. He said the vehicle detonated after police at the checkpoint blocked it from proceeding into the city.

Eyewitnesses said they had seen body parts scattered on the road. "I have seen people who lost their limbs screaming, it was a terrifying scene," Lul Qali, an eyewitness, said.

An unnamed police officer at the scene said the huge blast was targeted at a tax office on the road. "As officials were checking cars passing the road, a car suddenly exploded, causing casualties and damage."

Eyewitnesses said that they had heard a heavy blast near a taxation office during the morning rush hour.

"I was in a rickshaw and I heard a heavy blast, then I saw black smoke up in the air," said Jibril Aden, a witness. "All three people onboard a rickshaw right in front of us were killed in the blast. People panicked and ran to different directions for safety."

It is reported that some Turkish engineers involved in the construction of a road into the city were present at the time of the blast, and Turkey has confirmed the deaths of two of its nationals.

Mogadishu Mayor Omar Mohamud Filish told a news conference that the truck involved in the attack blew up on a busy road near the checkpoint where vehicles waited for a security check.

At least 15 students from Banadir University who were traveling in a minivan were also killed, according to multiple sources.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo sent his condolences to those killed and wished the injured a quick recovery. He said terrorists targeted innocent children, mothers and fathers who were going about their activities.

"Today is a sad day that shows how terrorism has targeted our people. I share our grief with the families," he said in a statement after the attack.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the attack, noting that perpetrators of this horrendous crime must be brought to justice, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Guterres reiterated the full commitment of the UN to support the people and government of Somalia in their pursuit of peace and development, while expressing his deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to those injured, the statement said.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, the deadliest in Somalia since a truck bombing in October 2017 in Mogadishu, which left at least 276 people dead and more than 300 others injured.


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