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Massive bomb kills at least 231 in Somalia

World

At least 231 people have been killed and more than 275 injured in a massive bomb blast in Mogadishu described as the single deadliest attack in Somalia’s history.

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Maryan Abdullahi’s father had been preparing to fly to Somalia’s capital to attend the happiest moment in his daughter’s life: her graduation day.

Instead, he will bury her.

On Saturday, the 22-year-old Abdullahi was making final preparations for graduation after years of medical studies when a massive truck bomb detonated in the middle of a Mogadishu street where she was travelling in a car with friends.

They were killed in what has been called the single deadliest attack in Somalia’s history. At least 231 people are dead, police and hospital workers said on Sunday, and more than 275 others were injured.

“A sad day. Her family was so proud of her and were counting the hours before her graduation,” said Amino Ahmed, Abdullahi’s classmate, with tears in her reddened eyes.

Ambulance sirens still echoed across the city throughout Sunday as bewildered families wandered in the rubble of buildings, looking for missing relatives.

“In our 10-year experience as the first responder in #Mogadishu, we haven’t seen anything like this,” the Aamin Ambulance service tweeted.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed declared three days of mourning and joined thousands of people who responded to a desperate plea by hospitals to donate blood for the wounded victims.

“I am appealing all Somali people to come forward and donate,” he said.

“The hospital is overwhelmed by both dead and wounded. We also received people whose limbs were cut away by the bomb. This is really horrendous, unlike any other time in the past,” said Dr Mohamed Yusuf, director of Medina hospital.

Overnight, rescue workers with flashlights searched for survivors trapped under the rubble of the largely destroyed Safari Hotel, which is close to Somalia’s foreign ministry. The explosion blew off metal gates and blast walls erected outside the hotel.

Mogadishu, a city long accustomed to deadly bombings by the Somalia-based al-Shabaab Islamic extremist group, was stunned by the force of Saturday’s blast. As the huge plume of smoke began to rise, residents said the explosion was the most powerful they’d heard in years.

Parts of the busy Hodan district were flattened, with concrete buildings mangled. Cars burned. Bodies were rushed away by shaken survivors, with bloodied sandals left behind. Children carried away charred remains in cardboard boxes.

Three brothers working at a nearby shopping centre were among the dead, witnesses said.

The explosion also killed a couple who were returning from a hospital after having their first child, said Dahir Amin Jesow, a Somali lawmaker.

“It’s a dark day for us,” he said.

Somalia’s government has blamed the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab extremist group for the attack it called a “national disaster”.

-AP

 

 

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