Nearly 300 dead after twin truck bombings in Somalia

The death toll in double truck bombings in Somalia over the weekend approached 300 on Monday — with another 300 injured, government authorities said.

People gather at the scene of a massive explosion in front of Safari Hotel in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia on Saturday. At least 277 people were killed. Photo by Yusuf Warsame/EPA-EFE
People gather at the scene of a massive explosion in front of Safari Hotel in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia on Saturday. At least 277 people were killed. Photo by Yusuf Warsame/EPA-EFE

The information ministry confirmed at least 277 deaths in Saturday’s twin bombings outside a hotel in the K5 district of Mogadishu. Forty people with severe wounds were airlifted to hospitals in Turkey, officials said.

No group had claimed responsibility for the double bombing.

Most of the casualties resulted from the first bomb, which destroyed several buildings. The K5 district is home to many embassies, hotels and restaurants, including Qatar’s embassy, the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Security forces were tipped off to the truck and its cargo of explosives, and were pursuing it through the district when the explosion occurred, Mogadishu Police Col. Ahmed Hassan said.

“The perpetrators struck a densely populated neighborhood of Mogadishu. They have killed an unprecedented number of civilians. It is a revolting attack both in terms of its intent and its impact,” said Michael Keating, United Nations special representative for Somalia.

The city has seen numerous attacks since 2007 by al-Shabaab, a terrorist group linked to al-Qaida, but none had the scope or death count of Saturday’s explosions. Al-Shabaab was forced from Mogadishu and now has its strength in Somalia’s rural areas but still targets the city’s restaurants and hotels.

The attacks quickly overwhelmed the city’s hospitals. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said five volunteers were among the dead.

Somali President Abdullahi Farmaajo ordered three days of mourning and called on “anyone who has medical education to reach medical facilities to provide assistance to victims of the accident.”

By Ed Adamczyk