Somalia: Suicide attack kills almost 80 in Mogadishu

29th Dec 2019
Somalia: Suicide attack kills almost 80 in Mogadishu

By Mohammed Dhaysane

 

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA): Almost 80 people, including two Turkish nationals, were killed and over 100 wounded, including children and many university students,  in a suicide truck bomb attack on a security checkpoint in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday, said Turkey’s envoy to the country.

The attack took place at the junction called Ex-Control Afgoye in a southwestern suburb of the capital during morning rush hour.

“Students traveling to schools and universities were among those killed in the attack,” Ismail Mukhtar Orango, a Somali government spokesman, told Anadolu Agency after the attack.

The death toll is expected to rise as the victims who died in hospital have not yet been fully counted, he added.

Somali police chief Abdi Hassan Mohamed told reporters: “Now we can elaborate on the death toll which stands 79 at the moment and the wounded are 100 plus,” he said. “There can be one or two more people who may be dead.”

“I saw many dead bodies lying on the ground,” a witness, Mohamed Abdi Hakim, said. “Some of those dead were police officers, but most of them were students.”

The two Turkish citizens who died in the attack worked for a Turkish contractor operating in the country, said Galip Yilmaz, the local coordinator of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), the state-run development agency.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Ambassador Mehmet Yilmaz said: “36 wounded are being treated in our Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital, and nine injured are in surgery. From the information we have, almost 80 people were killed in the attack.”

“We’re worried that the number of dead in the explosion will exceed 100,” he added.

The 200-bed hospital, named after Turkey’s president, was built by TIKA and inaugurated in 2015, and is run by Turkey’s Health Ministry, with over half its funding from Turkey.

Turkey has strong ties with Somalia, and since 2011, TIKA has taken part in over 150 projects in the Horn of Africa country.

Fahrettin Koca, Turkey’s health minister, said Turkey will send a team of 20 healthcare professionals to Mogadishu to aid in recovery efforts.

Responding to the attack, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said Turkey will always stand by its friend Somalia against terror.

Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop also called the attack an urgent warning of the danger of terrorism.

Condemning the attack, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “I wish God’s grace for two Turkish nationals and all those innocent Somali brothers killed in the attack.

We will always continue to support Somalia. Our determined fight against terror will continue.”

Turkish Communications Director Fahrettin Altun also denounced the attack, writing on Twitter: “I wish God’s grace for two of our citizens and almost 80 Somali brothers and sisters who were killed in heinous attack. Our country will always stand with Somalia in the fight against terror.”

 

Mogadishu resident Mahmoud Ali, 30, told Anadolu Agency that the attack was one of the deadliest he has seen in his lifetime.

Hussain Ibrahim, a police captain, told Anadolu Agency that an investigation is underway after the attack.

No group has yet claimed responsibility.

An Oct. 14, 2017 double truck bombing in Mogadishu blamed on terrorist group al-Shabaab killed at least 500 people, mostly civilians.

* Writing and contributions by Davut Demircan and Burak Bir

[Photo:  A general view of the site after a bomb attack carried out to a checkpoint in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on December 28, 2019. Photographer: Muhabiri Sadak Mohamed/AA]

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