Somalia appeals for international help after deadly blasts

Somalia appeals for international help after deadly blasts


Somalia’s President has issued an urgent appeal for international aid for the wounded victims of the weekend’s devastating car bombings that killed 100 people.

Bulldozers continued to clear the blast site in the capital Mogadishu on Monday to search for feared bodies trapped under the rubble.

Saturday’s attack, which also injured more than 300 people, was claimed by the jihadist group Al-Shabaab and was the deadliest in the fragile Horn of Africa nation in five years.

“We appeal to the international community, Somali brothers and other Muslim brothers and/or partners to send doctors to Somalia to help hospitals treat the wounded,” President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said in a statement Sunday.

He warned the death toll could rise as ill-equipped hospitals would be flooded.

After decades of conflict, Somalia has one of the weakest healthcare systems in the world.

“We can’t airlift all these numbers of wounded…we’re asking anyone who can send us to send us,” said Mohamud, who himself has donated blood for the victims.

Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre has ordered schools closed to allow students to take part in a national blood drive.

The World Health Organization said Sunday it was ready to help the government treat the injured and provide care for trauma.

Al-Shabaab, an Islamist group linked to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack, in which two cars laden with explosives detonated minutes apart near the city’s busy Zobe intersection, followed by gunfire.

A statement said it was targeting the country’s education ministry.

The explosions punched through walls and shattered windows of neighboring buildings, sending up shrapnel and clouds of smoke and dust into the air.

– ‘Total war’ –

Ali Yare Ali, a local government official in Mogadishu, told reporters that between seven and nine bodies were believed to be under the rubble of buildings destroyed by the blasts.

Somalia’s allies denounced the bombings, including the United States, the United Nations and the African Union, who sent messages of support.

The attack tests the government’s ability to secure the conflict-weary nation, including the capital of nearly 2.5 million people.

“The Somali nation and these terrorists are at war, as I speak fighting is taking place in many parts of the country,” Mohamud said Sunday.

“We’re at war with them and we’re killing each other.”

The attack took place at the same busy intersection where a truck loaded with explosives exploded on October 14, 2017, killing 512 people and injuring more than 290, the deadliest attack in Somalia.

Al-Shabaab fighters have stepped up their attacks in Somalia since Mohamud was elected in May and promised the Islamists an “uncompromising war”.

The insurgents have been trying to overthrow the fragile, foreign-backed government in Mogadishu for about 15 years.

Al-Shabaab militants were driven out of the capital by an African Union force in 2011, but the group still controls swaths of land and continues to carry out deadly attacks on civilian, political and military targets.

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