Somalia’s president has declared three days of national mourning after at least 231 people died in Saturday’s truck bombing — the deadliest attack to hit Mogadishu since an Islamist insurgency began in 2007, officials said.
Abdullahi Farmaajo posted on Twitter the “horrific attack proves our enemy would stop nothing to cause our people pain and suffering. Let’s unite against terror.”
He ordered flags to be flown at half-staff.
“Time to unite and pray together. Terror won’t win,” he wrote.
Farmaajo called on “citizens to come out, extend help, donate blood and comfort the bereaved.”
The president personally donated blood Sunday.
Also Sunday, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre appointed a 16-member committee to arrange national funerals and to provide assistance to the wounded, according to his office.
No one has claimed responsibility for the blast on a crowded street near government ministries and hotels in the capital but Islamic extremist group al Shabab similar has carried out similar attacks in efforts to overthrow the government.
Abdirizak Omar Mohamed, a former internal security minister, confirmed 231 deaths in visits to two hospitals, Erdogan and Madina, in a post on Twitter.
Relatives arrived at hospitals Sunday seeking news of loved ones.
Many bodies have not been identified with dozens burned beyond recognition. The death toll rose dramatically Sunday after corpses were recovered from the bombing site.
The blast hurt at least 300 people, including Abdulkaidr Mohamed Abdulle, a Voice of America Somali correspondent. Also, a freelance journalist was killed, according to sources.
The Qatari Embassy said the chargé d’affaires was slightly injured and its building was severely damaged.
At least 127 people were hospitalized at Erdogan Hospital, one of six hospitals treating victims.
The explosion destroyed buildings and overturned and burned cars on the streets where several bodies and bloodied footwear were scattered.
“There was a traffic jam, and the road was packed with bystanders and cars,” Abdinur Abdulle, a waiter at a nearby restaurant, said on Saturday. “It’s a disaster.”
Dr. Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adem, director of the Amin ambulance service, said: “economically, I think this is the worst [bombing] ever in Mogadishu in a single day.”
The free community ambulance service transported 250 injured people and 75 dead.
Two days before the blast, the country’s defense minister and army chief resigned for undisclosed reasons.
“The resignation of the country’s defense and military chiefs gave the militants a gab [opening] to carry out such disastrous attack,” Mogadishu University’s Dr. Abdul Kadir Liban Isse told Voice of America.