Mogadishu, October 29 (Reuters). Dozens of people were killed or injured in two car bombings in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Saturday, police and the state news agency said.
Officials said the attack was carried out by the Islamist group al Shabaab, which they said targeted the Ministry of Education, an intersection and a school.
“2 p.m. al-Shabaab terrorists carried out two blasts targeting civilians, including children, women and the elderly,” police spokesman Sadiq Doodishe said.
Doodis said police would release the number of dead and injured at a later date. State news agency SONNA said the explosions “killed many civilians, including independent journalist Mohamed Isse Kon”.
The Somali Journalists’ Syndicate (SJS) confirmed that TV reporter Kona had been killed.
The first blast occurred at the ministry, while the second blast occurred when an ambulance arrived and people gathered to help the victims, police officer Nur Farah told Reuters.
Another police officer guarding the ministry, who gave his name as Hassan, told Reuters he saw at least 12 bodies and more than 20 wounded people.
A Reuters reporter near the blast site said the two explosions occurred within minutes of each other and shattered windows nearby. He said the blood of the victims of the explosions covered the asphalt right next to the building.
Moments after the explosions, a large plume of smoke rose over the site.
“The second explosion burned our ambulance when we arrived to transport the victims of the first explosion,” Abdikadir Abdirahman of the Amin Ambulance Service told Reuters.
According to him, the driver and a first aid worker were injured in the explosion.
The attack happened at the same point where in 2017 the same month saw the biggest bombing of Somalia.
In that bombing, which killed more than 500 people, a truck bomb exploded outside a busy hotel at the K5 intersection, which is lined with government offices, restaurants and kiosks.
Al Shabaab, an al-Qaeda ally that has been fighting in Somalia for more than a decade, is seeking to overthrow the central government and establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Sharia law.
The group has been using a bombing campaign in Somalia and elsewhere, targeting military installations as well as hotels, shopping malls and busy traffic hubs.
In August, at least 20 people were killed and dozens wounded when al Shabaab militants stormed the Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu, causing a 30-hour standoff with security forces before the siege was finally lifted.
Somalia’s new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has launched an offensive against the group, backed by the United States and allied local militias, with limited results.
Report by Abdi Sheikh; Writer Elias Biryabarema; Edited by Alison Williams and Angus MacSwan
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