Death toll in Mogadishu bomb blasts top 300

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More than 300 people died after twin bomb explosions in Mogadishu, an official said, as locals packed hospitals in search of friends and relatives caught in Somalia’s deadliest attack in a decade.

The death toll has steadily risen since Saturday, when the blasts – for which no organisation claimed responsibility by Monday morning – struck at two busy junctions in the heart of the city.
“We have confirmed 300 people died. The death toll will be higher because some people are still missing,” Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of the city’s ambulance service, told Reuters.

Aden Nur, a doctor at Madina hospital, said they recorded 258 deaths while Ahmed Ali, a nurse at the nearby Osman Fiqi hospital, told Reuters five bodies were sent there.

Nur said 160 of the bodies could not be recognised. “They were buried by government yesterday. The others were buried by relatives. Over a hundred injured were also brought here,” he told Reuters.

Some of the injured were evacuated by air to Turkey for treatment, officials said.

Locals visiting injured relatives or collecting bodies filled every available space in Madina hospital.
“My last time to speak with my brother was minutes before the blast occurred. He told me he was on the way to meet and was passing at K5,” Halima Nur, a local mother, told Reuters, referring to one of the junctions hit.
“I am afraid he was among the unrecognised charred bodies buried yesterday. I have no hope of getting him alive or dead. But I cannot go home.”

DEADLIEST SINCE INSURGENCY BEGAN

Saturday’s bomb attacks were the deadliest since Islamist militant group al Shabaab began its insurgency in 2007.

Neither it nor any other group claimed responsibility, but al Shabaab, allied to al Qaeda, stages regular attacks in the capital and other parts of the country.

The group is waging an insurgency against Somalia’s UN-backed government and its African Union allies in a bid to impose its own strict interpretation of Islam.

The militants were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 and have been steadily losing territory since then to the combined forces of AU peacekeepers and Somali security forces.

But Al Shabaab retains the capacity to mount large, complex bomb attacks. Over the past three years, the number of civilians killed by insurgent bombings has climbed as al Shabaab increases the size of its bombs.

Some of those seriously injured in Saturday’s bombing were moved by ambulance to the airport on Monday morning to be flown to Turkey for further treatment, Nur added.

Workers unloaded boxes of medicine and other medical supplies from a Turkish military plane on the tarmac, while Turkish medical teams attended to injured moved from the hospital for evacuation.