Somali truck bombing toll mounts to 231

MOGADISHU: The residents of Mogadishu were mourning the deadliest single attack in the history of Somalia on Sunday after a suicide bomber killed at least 231 people when he detonated in a truck at a busy intersection in the Somali capital.
Senior police officer Ali Hassan Kulmiye confirmed the death toll from Saturday’s attack to this agency, with Madina Hospital Director MohamedYusuf counting 221 people killed and officials at Erdegon Hospital counting another 10 victims from the blast.
The death toll jumped after dozens of bodies were recovered from the rubble and some of those wounded died of the injuries they sustained in the blast. The number of dead is expected to rise as several other hospitals provide medical treatment for the bombing victims.
The explosion occurred at a major city intersection normally packed with cars, buses and taxis, where hotels, stores, restaurants and government buildings cater to locals. The nearby Safari hotel is thought to have been a possible target in the attack for offering accommodation to Somalis returned from abroad, government workers and journalists.
Before detonating the truck he was driving, the suicide bomber had raced along a Mogadishu street at high speed, rolling over motorcycles and cars and shunting some vehicles stuck in traffic. Security forces had opened fire on the truck but were unsuccessful in shooting the driver.
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed called the attack a national tragedy. In comments carried by state-run radio, the president called on the public to help the victims by giving blood and announced three days of mourning as thousands of people took to the city’s streets to visit local hospitals and look for their loved ones who were still missing.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Somali Information Minister Abdirahman Yarisow said the government believes it was carried out by Al Shabaab, a militant group affiliated with the Al Qaeda terrorist network. A 22,000-strong African Union force supports the Somali military in its fight against the terrorists. — DPA