Pope Francis strongly condemned Sunday’s bombing of a Catholic church that killed at least 18 people on the southern Philippine island of Jolo.
“I reiterate my strongest reprobation for this episode of violence who is once again plunging the Christian community into mourning,” Francis said during an Angelus message as he wound up World Youth Day celebrations in Panama.
Desperate Somalis searched for news of missing loved-ones on Mondayafter a massive truck bomb in Mogadishu killed at least 276 people and left 300 injured in the deadliest ever attack to hit the conflict-torn nation.
Residents of the Somali capital, while wearily accustomed to regular bombs and attacks by Islamist militants, have been left stunned by the monster explosion Saturday which gutted surrounding buildings and left victims burned beyond recognition.
A statement from the information ministry on Monday said “276 people were killed in the blast… and 300 wounded were admitted at the different hospitals in Mogadishu.”
The government said it had set up an emergency committee to help relatives find the missing, with a crisis centre in the capital that residents can turn to.
There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Shabaab, a militant group aligned with Al-Qaeda, carries out regular suicide bombings in Mogadishu in its bid to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government.
The group has a history of not claiming attacks whose scale provokes massive public outrage.
Police official Ibrahim Mohamed told AFP that many of the victims were “burned beyond recognition” in what he described as “the deadliest attack ever.”
Turkey sent a military plane full of medical supplies to Mogadishu on Monday, also evacuating some of the injured for treatment.
The blast occurred in Hodan, a bustling commercial district which has many shops, hotels and businesses in the city’s northwest. Several experts told AFP the truck was probably carrying at least 500 kilogrammes (1,100 pounds) of explosives.
A second car bomb exploded two hours later, injuring two people.
Abdulahi Nuradin was one of many helping friends and family hunting for news of the missing.
“It has been more than 24 hours now and we don’t have any traces or information about the sister of my friend. We can assume she is dead, with her flesh somewhere amongst the horribly burned dead bodies,” he told AFP.
“We went to several hospitals to seek any information but to no avail, the family is now 99 percent convinced she is dead, I saw so many severed pieces of human flesh at the hospitals,” he added.
Saturday’s blast was condemned by the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Turkey and the African Union.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the city would switch off the lights of the Eiffel Tower on Monday night in homage to the victims of the attack.
– ‘Devastation beyond imagination’ –
Local government official Muhidin Ali said more than 100 bodies who were impossible to identify had already been buried.
“The gruesome dead bodies were displayed at the hospitals for relatives but a few were recognised and most of them not at all, the devastation is something beyond the imagination of humankind,” he said.
The previous deadliest assault took place in October 2011, when a truck bomb targeting a government office left 82 dead and 150 injured.
Saturday’s blast, the worst in Somalia’s history, came six years after Shabaab militants were pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union and Somali troops.
While they were also pushed out of major towns across southern Somalia the militants still control rural areas and launch attacks on military, government and civilian targets in Somalia, as well as terrorist raids in neighbouring Kenya.
According to the Nairobi-based Sahan thinktank, at least 723 people were killed and over 1,000 injured in bomb attacks in 2016 in Somalia.
– ‘Targeting innocent people’ –
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmajo, declared three days of mourning as he visited the attack site and then met with some of the wounded at a nearby hospital.
“Today’s incident was a horrible attack carried out by Al-Shabaab against innocent civilians that was not aimed at specific Somali government targets,” he said in a televised address to the nation.
“This shows how these violent elements are ruthlessly and indiscriminately targeting innocent people.”
Mogadishu’s mayor, Tabid Abdi Mohamed, also visited those wounded in the blast and said the horror of the attack was “unspeakable”.
“There is no tragedy worse than when someone comes to the dead body of their relative and cannot recognise them.”
Hundreds of people, chanting anti-violence slogans and wearing red or white bandanas around their heads in a show of grief, took to the streets of Mogadishu on Sunday to condemn the deadly attack that has shocked Somalians.
“We have seen what the terrorists can mercilessly do by shedding the blood of innocent civilians,” the mayor told the protesters after they ended their march at a square in southern Mogadishu. “We need to stand united against them”.
The devastation caused was widespread. Muhidin Ali, a Mogadishu resident who was close by at the time said it was, “the biggest blast I have ever witnessed, it destroyed the whole area.”
Security officials said hundreds of people had been in the area at the time of the blast, with police saying it was difficult to get a precise number of victims because the bodies had been taken to different medical centres while others had been taken directly by their relatives for burial.
Pope Francis has condemned Saturday’s deadly bomb attack on a bus convoy in Syria.
In his Easter message delivered to thousands of pilgrims who gathered in St. Peters Square at the Vatican, he said the bombing which killed more than 100 people near the city of Aleppo, was “the latest vile attack on fleeing refugees”.
The pope, who also spoke against terrorism and corruption, expressed hope that God would send succor to the people of Syria.
“May God in a particular way, sustain the efforts of those who are actively working to bring healing and comfort to the civilian population of Syria, the beloved and martyred Syria, who are victims of a war that does not cease to sow horror and death,” he said.
At an earlier vigil, he spoke of migrants’ pain, and criticised “paralysing and barren bureaucracies that stand in the way of change”.
Meanwhile, Coptic churches in Egypt also marked Easter after last week’s attack claimed by Islamic State militants, left 45 people dead.
The Department of State Service, DSS, has arrested five men for the April 14 bombing of Nyanya Park in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory.
The DSS has also declared wanted one Rufai Abubakar Tsiga and Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche for allegedly masterminding the bombing.
Addressing a media briefing at the service headquarters in Abuja, the spokesperson of the service, Marilyn Ogar, while revealing the identities of those arrested, also revealed details of past encounters with one of those declared wanted.
She said: “It is noteworthy that the UK born Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche, with Service Number 95/104 deserted the Nigerian Army in 2006. He served in the Intelligence Unit of the Nigerian Army between 2001 and 2006 and was posted to the Nigerian Defense Academy in 2006, but rather than reporting at the academy, he deserted.
“Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche was arrested by this service (DSS) on 12th November 2011 at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja on his arrival from the United Kingdom for suspected involvement in terrorism related activities, but was released on bail on 15th October 2012 to his father, a retired Colonel, Agene Ogwuche, following intense pressure from human rights activists who alleged human rights violation.”
She further stated that “Nigerian security forces shall not rest on their oars until every individual or group of persons involved in the Nyanya bombings are brought to book.”
Those arrested are Ahmad Rufai Abubakar, Muhammadu Sani Ishaq, Adamu Yusuf, Yau Saidu and Anas Isah.
The service, in addition, also announced a reward of 25million Naira for anybody with useful information on their whereabouts.
A bomb went off during morning rush hour on April 14 2014 at the Nyanya motor park Abuja, killing 75 people, injuring several others.
A suicide bomber rammed his car into a bus carrying Iranian Shi’ite Muslim pilgrims in Iraq on Friday, killing at least nine people in an attack likely carried out by Sunni Muslim insurgents trying to ignite sectarian conflict.
Al Qaeda’s local wing and other Sunni insurgents have been on the offensive since the start of the year in an attempt – spurred in part by the mainly Sunni rebellion in neighboring Syria – to provoke the kind of Shi’ite-Sunni bloodshed that killed thousands in Iraq in 2006-2007.
Police said that in Friday’s attack in Muqdadiya, 80 km northeast of Baghdad, the bomber targeted a convoy of three buses carrying Iranian pilgrims, who often visit Iraq’s Shi’ite shrines in the south of the country. At least nine people were killed and 27 wounded, according to police.
“When the buses passed, a white car driving very fast came out of an alley way and hit the second bus, and I saw that bus burst into flames,” said Ahmed Ferhan, an Iraqi man injured in the blasts.
An official with Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization told the semi-official Fars news agency that based on preliminary information, 16 Iranians had been killed and 44 wounded in the attack.
Nearly 2,000 people have been killed in attacks in Iraq since April, the highest toll in five years, in surging violence that could tip the country back into all-out inter-communal war.
The Nigeria Police has come out to announce the death of five people in an attack by Islamists in Maiduguri, yesterday.
Two witnesses, who asked not to be named, said they heard cries for help at around 2:30 a.m. from a house in the Jiddari Polo area of Maiduguri and later saw five dead bodies with what looked like machete wounds.
“Five people were slaughtered today but we can’t say who did it because they fled before security personnel arrived,” police spokesman Gabriel Jibrin said by phone.
Separately, residents and a Reuters witness said they heard a loud explosion and around 30 minutes of gunfire in the town, close to borders with Niger and Chad.
Military and police said it was too early to give any details on any casualties from the explosion and gun battle.
This is the third attack by the terrorists in the region, this week.
Gunmen suspected of being members of Boko Haram killed 13 local hunters who sell bush meat Islamist militants disapprove of on Monday.
Suspected members of the Islamist sect riding on motorbikes shot dead five people playing an outdoor board game on Tuesday. Two others were wounded.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has strongly condemned the outrageous and senseless attack on St. Rita’s Catholic Church, Kaduna which took place today; Sunday during the morning mass.
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mallam Imam Imam, Tambuwal added that the attack on said innocent worshippers and other bystanders is both callous and senseless.
He urged Nigerians to remain resolute and not to despair, saying it is gladdening that security agents made commendable strides in handling the menace of terrorism in the country in recent months.
He however urged them to do more to destroy the ability of the terrorists to unleash mayhem on innocent, peaceful and law-abiding Nigerians.
While condoling with the families of the victims of the attack, the Speaker said the House of Representatives will continue to support all efforts aimed at securing lives and properties of Nigerians in all parts of the country.
The State Security Service (SSS) on Wednesday said that the government is winning the fight against the Boko Haram sect despite the increasing waves of bomb attacks in some cities in the northern part of the country.
The spokesperson for the security service, Marylyn Ogar who said this at the opening ceremony of a three day security consciousness workshop for Department Security Officers (DSOs) of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in Abuja said that the increasing attack of Boko Haram recently is a “desperate measures by a sinking terrorist group whose end is near.”
“Once you are getting to the end of any war, you tend to see issues that will frighten you a little bit and you begin to feel like there is no end in sight, but I want to say authoritatively that we are moving forward, and very soon, if everybody continues to come on board we will definitely see an end to this war that is affecting everybody,” Ms Ogar said.
She said “the President is strengthening security agencies through the acquisition of modern day technology to combat terrorism, but of course, despite all the equipment you have, you must have human input, without human input your technology comes to nothing.
“That is why there is need for us to continue to ensure that Nigerians are educated to be more conscious of their environment so that they can identify intruders within their locality; so technology alone cannot overcome this current battle that we are facing.”
The SSS spokesperson said that Nigeria is already collaborating with other countries of the world to bring both local and international terrorism to its knees.
“After the 9/11 in America, the whole world became a global village; there was a lot of interaction, collaborations security wise, there is no country, no institution that can fight the war on terror or any other war alone”.
The dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram that have been accused of sponsoring attacks in several cities in the Northern part of Nigeria, launched an attack that killed over 30 people in Kaduna on Easter day.
The group, that is seeking the implementation of Sharia law in Nigeria has been blamed for deadly attacks that has killed over 1, 000 people since it began its campaign.