At least 11 people died when a bomb exploded on a busy street and ripped into a nearby restaurant in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Thursday, March 28, medics said.
“The death toll we have confirmed so far is 11 people, with 16 others wounded,” said Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adan, director of the Aamin Ambulance service, adding that the toll could still rise. “There could be more losses.”
Witnesses described scenes of devastation, with several people wounded as they were eating lunch.
The blast is thought to have been caused by a car bomb, journalist Harun Maruf reported. It exploded Thursday afternoon on the Maka Al-Mukarama road in downtown Mogadishu, and is the fifth in the capital since Sunday, Maruf said.
EVERYDAY REAL HEROES – @AaminAmbulance, first to get there to evacuate the injured and collect the dead. This is a service run by private individuals – think about that! #Mogadishu #Somalia pic.twitter.com/yrXIXrEd9U
— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) March 28, 2019
“The car bomb struck a restaurant along the road,” said Abdulahi Osman, who was nearby to the explosion. “This really was a disaster.”
Vehicles were tossed into the air by the blast, which also damaged nearby buildings. Witnesses said several cars and three-wheeler motorbikes were destroyed by the force of the explosion.
“I saw 16 people carried from the blast scene – and more than 10 of them were already dead,” Osman added.
Ambulance workers rushed in to help take the wounded to hospital.
“I don’t know whether they were dead or wounded, but I could see several people strewn in the street – some of them were motionless,” said Suado Ahmed, another witness who was at the scene moments after the blast.
The bombing is the latest in a recent string of blasts in the capital, which has been hit regularly by Shabaab attacks.
“There was a heavy blast – presumably caused by a vehicle loaded with explosives,” said Adan Abdikadir, a government security officer.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the blast comes just weeks after four people were killed and nine wounded in a car bomb explosion near a restaurant in central Mogadishu, an attack that was claimed by the jihadist group Al-Shabaab.
Al-Shabaab is fighting to overthrow the internationally backed government in Somalia, but has also carried out attacks in neighboring Kenya, which has deployed troops as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia.
On March 1, at least 20 people died in an attack in Mogadishu which saw Al-Shabaab jihadists battling security forces for nearly 24 hours.
On February 4, al-Shabaab targeted the busy Hamarweyne market near the capital’s municipal district. On January 16, the group attacked an upmarket hotel complex in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, killing 21 people during a day-long siege.
With reporting from AFP