The single deadliest attack in Somalia’s history saw the death toll rise to over 500, even as emergency workers continue to dig through the rubble created by the bomb. The blast collapsed buildings and set nearby cars ablaze. It seems that nearly all the dead were killed by the first bomb, which exploded on Saturday. The number of dead is likely to go even higher as the rubble is cleared. Many individuals are still missing.
Other authorities have indicated that a definitive death toll may never be established, because the remains of individuals were destroyed by the heat from the blast.
An additional 300 people were injured when the explosion occurred, turning a crowded shopping district into a nightmare in just a few minutes. The mayor of the city where the bombing occurred has called for those who own earth moving equipment to come to the aid of potential survivors and the bodies of those who have died.
“Terror won’t win,” said Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who also called for a three-day mourning period to honor the victims. “I call on our citizens to come out, extend help, donate blood and comfort the bereaved. Let’s get through this together.”
There are indications that the death toll could continue to rise as more earth is moved and additional victims are uncovered. The attack has been blamed on a Somali militant group al-Shabab, although they have not made a statement regarding the explosion. The group is responsible for a series of attacks in the last few years. They are focused on creating a radical Islamist state. The Somalia President has stepped up his efforts to combat this group.
This militant group has targeted population centers, not showing any concern for the families, children, and other civilians that are hurt during their journey to a radical Islamic state. Still, this attack has shocked a nation, even as details continue to come to light about how the attack was carried out. Journalists were among the victims of the attack.
The bombing even damaged the Qatar embassy and slightly injured one of their employees. Relatives of those who have been hurt and killed are flocking to the area hospitals, to both claim their loved ones and to find those who might still be alive.
Families have lost the heads of their households, putting their children and livelihoods at risk. Nations throughout the international community have condemned the attack and praising the response of the Somali security forces, as well as the first responders.
“Today is the worst day of my life. We are overwhelmed by the high number of the casualties. I have been working at this hospital for more than seven years, and I never saw or heard this number of deaths,” said Ahmed Osman, a nurse at the Mogadishu’s Medina Hospital.
The militant group who is blamed for the attack promotes a strict following of the sharia law, which includes violent physical punishments, including amputating hands and other harsh sentences for minor crimes.
The attacks of the militant group are another challenge for this poor African country. The current president is the first democratically elected president in more than two decades. The election was conducted by members of their parliament, due in part to threats of violence by the al-Shabab militant group.