More than 20 people have been reported killed by a car bomb blast during morning rush hour in Somalia’s capital today.
The blast took place at the Ex-Control checkpoint in Mogadishu and comes amid persistent insecurity in the Horn of Africa nation.
Police described the blast as ‘devastating’ while the mayor of the city said at least 90 civilians, mostly students, had been injured in the explosion.
‘The blast was devastating, and I could confirm more than 20 civilians killed, there were many more wounded, but the toll can be higher,’ police officer Ibrahim Mohamed said.
‘I have counted twenty-two dead bodies, all of them civilians and there were more than thirty others wounded, this was dark day,’ said Ahmed Moalim Warsame, who witnessed the explosion.
Paramedics and civilians assist a man injured in a car bomb explosion at a security checkpoint as he arrives to a hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia
Somali security assess the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia
The blast took place at the Ex-Control checkpoint in Mogadishu and comes amid persistent insecurity in the Horn of Africa nation
The explosion occurred in a busy area prone to heavy traffic due to a security checkpoint and a taxation office.
‘This was a devastating incident because there were many people including students in buses who were passing by the area when the blast occurred,’ said another witness Muhibo Ahmed.
Sakariye Abdukadir, who was near the area when the car bomb detonated, said the blast ‘destroyed several of my car windows.’
‘All I could see was scattered dead bodies… amid the blast and some of them burned beyond recognition.’
After the sound of a huge blast at the Ex-Control checkpoint in Mogadishu, 55-year-old Sabdow Ali, who lives nearby, told Reuters by phone that he had left his house and counted at least 13 people dead.
‘Dozens of injured people were screaming for help, but the police immediately opened fire and I rushed back to my house,’ he said.
An injured woman is transported on a wheelchair at Medina hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia
Paramedics and civilians assist a man injured in a car bomb explosion at a security checkpoint as he arrives to a hospital in Mogadishu
A civilian who was wounded in suicide car bomb attack is helped by a friend at check point in Mogadishu
The injured were transported to Medina Hospital, where a Reuters witness saw dozens arriving by ambulance from the scene.
Speaking to reporters at the blast site, Mogadishu Mayor Omar Muhamoud said the government confirmed at least 90 civilians, mostly students, had been injured in the explosion.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, but Al Qaeda-linked Islamist group al Shabaab, which wants to topple the United Nations-backed government, regularly carries out such attacks.
The police were not reachable for comment on casualty numbers. Government authorities have told medical personnel not to disclose figures as they have done in the past, and journalists are forbidden from going to attack sites.
An ambulance leaves from the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu
A wounded man is carried on a stretcher at Medina hospital in Mogadishu
Medical personnel carry a civilian who was wounded in suicide car bomb attack at check point in Mogadishu
Somalia has been riven by conflict since 1991, when clan warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre, then turned on each other.
Mogadishu is regularly hit by car bombs and attacks waged by Al-Shabaab Islamist militants allied to Al-Qaeda.
The group was forced out of the Somali capital in 2011 but still controls parts of the countryside and has also staged attacks in neighbouring Kenya.
Two weeks ago five people were killed when al-Shabaab attacked a Mogadishu hotel popular with politicians, army officers and diplomats in an hours-long siege.