The United Nations’ senior envoy in Somalia has condemned Saturday’s bombing that claimed over 276 lives in Mogadishu and offered the world body’s support.
Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Somalia, Michael Keating said the immediate priority is to support efforts led by the authorities to recover from the attack and help all those affected.
The death toll from the most powerful bomb blast witnessed in Somalia’s capital rose to 276, with more than 275 injured, making it the deadliest single attack ever in this Horn of Africa nation, said a senator.
Abshir Abdi Ahmed said the toll comes from doctors at hospitals he has visited in Mogadishu. Many of the bodies in hospital mortuaries have not yet been identified, he said.
Doctors struggled to assist horrifically wounded victims, many burned beyond recognition. Officials feared the toll would continue to climb from Saturday’s truck bomb that targeted a busy street near key ministries.
Ambulance sirens still echoed across the city throughout Sunday, 15 October, as bewildered families wandered in the rubble of buildings looking for missing relatives.
Grief Overwhelms Families, Three-Day Mourning Declared
“There’s nothing I can say. We have lost everything,” wept Zainab Sharif, a mother of four who lost her husband. She sat outside a hospital where he was pronounced dead after hours of effort by doctors to save him from an arterial injury.
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 the dead and the wounded. We also received people whose limbs were cut away by the bomb. This is really horrendous, unlike any other time in the past.Dr Mohamed Yusuf, director, 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.
Somalia’s government has blamed the al Qaida-linked al Shabab extremist group for the attack it called a “national disaster.” However, al Shabab, which often targets high-profile areas of the capital with bombings, had yet to comment.
“They don’t care about the lives of Somali people, mothers, fathers and children,” Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire said. “They have targeted the most populated area in Mogadishu, killing only civilians.”
Somalia’s Information Minister, Abdirahman Omar, said the blast was the largest the city had ever seen. “It’s a sad day. This how merciless and brutal they are, and we have to unite against them,” he said, speaking to the state-run radio station.
The United States joined the condemnation, saying “such cowardly attacks reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism.”
The blast occurred two days after the head of the US Africa Command visited Mogadishu to meet with Somalia’s President, and also two days after the country’s Defence Minister and army chief stepped down for undisclosed reasons.
The US military, in 2016, stepped up drone strikes and other efforts against the extremist group, which is also fighting the Somali Military and over 20,000 African Union forces in the country.
(With inputs from AP, IANS)