At least 39 people were killed and over 50 others were injured on Sunday when a car bomb ripped through a busy market in Somali capital Mogadishu.
The blast took place at the market of Kawo-Goday in Wadajir district on Sunday afternoon. Police Capt Mohamed Hussein said, “It was a horrific and barbaric attack only aimed at killings civilians.”
Somalia’s new President, Mohamed Abdulahi Mohamed visited the victims and offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those who planned the blast.
The car was driven by a suicide bomber. The blast from a car parked near a restaurant went off when shoppers and traders were gathered inside the market, said district commissioner Ahmed Abdulle. Security officials and witnesses said the victims included civilians, shopkeepers and government soldiers.
Women sobbed and screamed outside the market as rescue workers moved bloodied bodies and wounded victims into ambulances.
Witness Abdulle Omar said the market was destroyed.”I was staying in my shop when a car came in into the market and exploded. I saw more than 20 people lying on the ground. Most of them were dead,” Mr Abdulle Omar added.
“We carried 39 dead bodies and there were many others injured,” Dr Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of the Aamin Ambulance Service, told Reuters. Madina hospital took in 47 injured people, Dr Mohamed Yusuf, the manager, said.
Sabriye Abdullahi, an ambulance driver told The Associated Press that some of the injured victims died on their way to the hospitals. “Many of them suffered extensive third degree burns and others were burned beyond recognition,” he said.
Mohamed Haji, a butcher who suffered shrapnel wounds, pointed to a clothes shop devastated by the blast. “Someone had parked the car here and left before it was detonated,” he said. Pieces of wood and metal sheets on the ground were all that remained of the shop.
“It’s a painful carnage.” said Ali Mire, a government soldier who was helping a friend with shrapnel wounds.
No one has yet claimed the responsibility for the attack, but officials blamed al-Shabab militants. The powerful explosion was the first major attack since Somalia’s new president was elected on Feb.8. President condemned the blast in a tweet, saying that it shows the “cruelty” of al-Shabab.
Earlier the day, president stressed there is an urgent need to fight and defeat the group as quickly as possible.
“My vision is to defeat al-Shabab in the next two years, hopefully if we work very closely together, we will be able to defeat them” he said during a meeting in Mogadishu with African Union leadership and representatives of troop-contributing countries. “If Somalia is to achieve prosperity, than there is an urgent need to root out the group” he said.
A few hours after the blast, al-Shabab denounced the new president as an “apostate” and vowed to continue fighting against his government.
Civil was has raven Somalia since 1991. Aid agencies warn that a severe drought has placed large swathes of the country at risk of famine.