Almost 80 dead after truck bomb blast in Somali capital Mogadishu

28 December 2019, 13:29

Wreckage left by the truck bomb in Mogadishu
Wreckage left by the truck bomb in Mogadishu. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Almost 80 people have been killed in a truck bomb blast in one of Somalia’s deadliest attacks for years.

At least 76 people died and more than 50 people were also injured in the explosion at a busy security check-point in Mogadishu in Saturday.

The blast targeted a tax collection centre during the morning rush-hour as Somalians returned to work after their weekend.

It was one of the deadliest attacks in the city in recent memory, and witnesses said its force reminded them of the devastating 2017 bombing in the city that killed hundreds.

More than 50 people were injured in the explosion at a security check-point
More than 50 people were injured in the explosion at a security check-point. Picture: PA

Government spokesman Ismail Mukhtar said the death toll could yet increase further as more than 50 people injured in the incident, some seriously, are being treated in hospital.

Most of those killed were university and other students returning to class, mayor Omar Mohamud Mohamed said at the scene.

Witness Mohamed Abdi Hakim said: "I saw many dead bodies lying on the ground. Some of those dead were police officers, but most of them were students."

Photos from the scene showed the mangled frames of vehicles, with a large black plume of smoke rising into the sky above.

At least 76 people have died in the attack
At least 76 people have died in the attack. Picture: PA

No group has yet said it was behind the blast, but Al Qaida-linked al-Shabab often carries out such attacks.

The extremist group was pushed out of Mogadishu several years ago but continues to target high-profile areas such as checkpoints and hotels in the city.

Al-Shabab was blamed for a devastating truck bombing in the capital in October 2017 that killed more than 500 people, though the group never claimed responsibility for the blast.

Some analysts said al-Shabab did not dare claim credit as its strategy of trying to sway public opinion by exposing government weakness had badly backfired.

Abdurrahman Yusuf, another witness to Saturday's attack, said: "This explosion is similar to the one... in 2017.

“This one occurred just a few steps away from where I am and it knocked me on the ground from its force. I have never seen such an explosion in my entire life."