At least 100 dead in double car bombing in Mogadishu

At least 100 dead in double car bombing in Mogadishu

At least 100 people, including children, were killed on Saturday in a double car bomb attack claimed by Al-Shabaab on a busy thoroughfare in the center of the capital Mogadishu.

Some 300 people were also injured, said President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, after visiting the site of the attacks, stressing that “the number of dead and injured continued to increase”.

Two car bombs exploded on Saturday a few minutes apart. The explosions, which blew the windows of neighboring buildings, overwhelmed hospitals and clinics in this country with a health system ravaged by decades of conflict.

In search of his sister-in-law, Mohamed Ganey describes corridors crowded with victims left almost without care. His joy at having found her was short-lived. “She died of her injuries a few minutes later.”

Police officer Adan Mohamed struggles to control his emotions. He was one of the first to arrive on the scene, after the explosion of the second vehicle bomb.

“I couldn’t sleep all night, because of the horror of the scene,” he told AFP, remembering the baby he discovered with his colleagues next to his mother. dead.

“I cried and cried nonstop after seeing his face covered in his mother’s blood. He couldn’t even cry he was so shocked. He just stood there, blinking, staring.

– “Same crossroads” –

The attack took place at the same crossroads which had already been hit by the most serious attack ever committed in Somalia: 512 people were killed on October 14, 2017 by the explosion of a truck packed with explosives.

For Hussein Jeeri, who lost a friend at the same crossroads five years ago, tragedy struck again when his sister was injured on Saturday. Walking “in the streets of Mogadishu is like walking on sharp swords, we all dread being killed or injured one day”.

The double attack was claimed by the Al-Shabaab who declared that their fighters had targeted the Ministry of Education.

The Islamist group, linked to Al-Qaeda, has been fighting the federal government supported by the international community since 2007. It was driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 but remains firmly established in large rural areas, particularly in the south of the country, and regularly carries out attacks in the capital and major cities of Somalia.

The double attack was notably condemned by the UN, the EU as well as the African Union and the UN mission in Somalia which pledged to stand “resolutely with all Somalis against terrorism”. .

In Brussels, the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, “firmly” condemned this double attack, reaffirming the determination of Europeans to fight against terrorism and to defeat the Shebab group.

Pope Francis offered his condolences to the victims of the bloody attack on Sunday.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres “strongly condemns these heinous attacks and reiterates the UN’s solidarity with Somalia and its commitment against violent extremism,” said his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Washington also denounced a “hateful” attack and assured the Somali authorities of their “support in the fight to prevent such ruthless terrorist attacks”, in a statement from White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

– “Total war” –

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack last week on a hotel in the port city of Kismayo that left nine dead and 47 injured.

In recent months, the Shebab have redoubled their activity in Somalia, a poor and unstable country in the Horn of Africa, with in particular a spectacular assault, lasting around thirty hours, at the end of August on a hotel in Mogadishu.

After this attack which left at least 21 dead and 117 injured, President Hassan Cheikh Mohamoud promised a “total war” to eliminate the Shebab and called on the population to “stay away” from areas controlled by the Islamists who would be targeted by future offensives.

The security forces and local clan militias have notably launched military operations in the center of the country, which, according to the authorities, have made it possible to regain ground from Islamist fighters.

In addition to the Shebab insurgency, Somalia is also threatened by an imminent famine, caused by the most severe drought observed for more than 40 years.