Truck bomb kills scores in Mogadishu

Somalia

More than 60 dead and dozens injured after morning rush hour blast in Somali capital

Emergency services attend the scene of the bombing at a checkpoint in Mogadishu.Photograph: Feisal Omar/Reuters

A truck bomb has exploded at a busy security checkpoint in Mogadishu, killing at least 61 people, officials said. The attack during rush hour on Saturday morning was one of the deadliest attacks in the Somali capital in recent memory. The toll was likely to rise as scores of people were taken to hospitals, Ismail Mukhtar, a government spokesman, said.

Abdiqadir Abdirahman, the director of the Aamin ambulance service, confirmed the 61 deaths and said more than 50 others were wounded. The mayor, Omar Mohamud Mohamed, speaking at the scene, said at least 90 people were wounded, including children. Two Turkish nationals and many university students were among those killed, he said.

Images from the scene showed the mangled frames of vehicles and bodies lying on the ground. A large black plume of smoke rose above the capital. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

Al-Shabaab often carries out such attacks. The al-Qaida-linked group was pushed out of Mogadishu several years ago but continues to target high-profile areas, such as checkpoints and hotels, in the coastal city. Al-Shabaab was blamed for a devastating truck bombing in Mogadishu in October 2017 that killed more than 500 people.

The group never claimed responsibility for the blast and some analysts said it did not dare claim credit as its strategy of trying to sway public opinion by exposing government weakness had backfired. The latest attack has raised concerns about the readiness of Somali forces to take over responsibility for the country's security from an African Union force in the coming months. Al-Shabaab, the target of a growing number of US airstrikes since President Donald Trump took office, controls parts of Somalia's southern and central regions.

It funds itself with a taxation system that experts describe as extortion of businesses and travellers that brings in millions of dollars a year.

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