17 Dead, 28 Wounded In Somalia Bomb Blast

FILE PHOTO: A man passes in front of the rubbles of the popular Medina hotel of Kismayo on July 13, 2019, a day after at least 26 people, including several foreigners, were killed and 56 injured in a suicide bomb and gun attack claimed by Al-Shabaab militants. PHOTO: STRINGER / AFP

 

Seventeen people were killed and more than two dozen wounded when a car bomb exploded in Mogadishu on Monday, the latest deadly attack on Somalia’s capital claimed by Al-Shabaab militants.

The blast, near a security checkpoint on the main road to the international airport, reverberated throughout the city and sent massive plumes of black smoke into the air.

Witnesses described scenes of carnage as a car veered out of traffic and detonated outside the main gate of a hotel with tremendous force.

“I could see several people lying (on the ground), some of them dead in a pool of blood,” said Abdikarim Mohamed, a witness to the attack.

“The blast was huge. It did damage to several nearby buildings.”

Suado Ali was walking out of a travel agency when she “was forced to the ground by the shockwave”.

“I saw nearly ten people lying on the ground, some motionless and others screaming for help”, she told AFP.

Medina Hospital, the main trauma facility in the Somali capital, was inundated by the dead and wounded.

“The bodies of 17 people killed in the blast were taken to the hospital mortuary while 28 others were admitted for various wounds,” said Mohamed Yusuf, the hospital’s director.

Another witness, Abdullahi Ahmed, said at least two government security personnel manning one of the checkpoints on the road were killed in the blast.

‘Martyrdom operation’

Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group waging a deadly insurgency in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the bombing.

“The martyrdom operation was carried out using a vehicle loaded with explosives which targeted a checkpoint along the airport road,” the group said in a brief statement.

The attack comes just over a week after 26 people were killed and 56 injured in a 12-hour attack by Al-Shabaab jihadists on a popular hotel in the southern Somali port city of Kismayo.

In that attack, a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into the Medina hotel before several heavily armed gunmen forced their way inside, shooting as they went.

The attacks are the latest in a long line of bombing and assaults claimed by Al-Shabaab, which has fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.

The militant group emerged from the Islamic Courts Union that once controlled central and southern Somalia and is variously estimated to number between 5,000 and 9,000 men.

In 2010, the Shabaab declared their allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

In 2011, they fled positions they once held in the capital Mogadishu, and have since lost many strongholds.

But they retain control of large rural swathes of the country and continue to wage a guerrilla war against the authorities.

AFP

Generals Among Seven Killed In Somali Jihadist Attack

Somalia Election: Mohamed Abdullahi Emerges As President

A mine blast killed two generals and five other soldiers near the Somali capital Mogadishu on Thursday, military sources said, in an attack claimed by the jihadist Al-Shabaab movement.

General Omar Adan Hassan, head of the army’s 12th brigade, and the brigade’s operational commander, General Abdi Ali Jamame, were among those killed in the blast.

A statement from the president’s office paid tribute to all the victims as “martyrs” who had “sacrificed their lives” working for the return of peace in their country.

Their military convoy was returning to Mogadishu after visiting a military base south of the capital on a coastal road when a vehicle set off the device.

“The terrorists planted an explosive device along the road targeting a vehicle transporting general Omar Dhere,” military spokesman Mohamed Adan told AFP.

The two officers were on board a pick-up truck and most of its passengers were killed, said another military spokesman, Abdulahi Ahmed. Two other soldiers were wounded in the blast.

The Shebab group, an Al-Qaeda affiliate which has been fighting to overthrow the internationally backed Somali government for over a decade, claimed responsibility for the attack.

AFP

38 People Dead As Car Explosion Rocks Somalia Presidential Palace

Somali residents react as they gather at the scene of a suicide car explosion in front of Doorbin hotel in Mogadishu, on February 24, 2018. At least 38 people were killed and several wounded when two car bombs exploded on February 23, 2018 near the presidential palace and a hotel in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. PHOTO: Mohamed ABDIWAHAB / AFP

 

Two car bombings killed 38 people in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Friday, the city’s main ambulance service told AFP on Saturday.

“We have seen at least 38 people dead,” said Abdukadir Abdurahman Aden of the Aamin Ambulance of the bombings that targeted the presidential palace and a hotel.

The first blast, followed by gunfire, occurred at a security checkpoint close to Villa Somalia, the name for the seat of government, while a second followed soon after at a hotel, according to police.

The Shabaab Islamist militant group claimed the attacks in a statement posted online, saying it was targeting the government and security services.

The blasts follow weeks of relative calm in Mogadishu.

According to officials, the main attack involved the use of a vehicle loaded with explosives attempting to breach a checkpoint leading to the presidential palace, but security forces prevented the assault.

“The security forces foiled the intent of the terrorists. They were aiming for key targets but they could not even go closer, there were five of them killed by the security force,” said Abdullahi Ahmed, a security officer.

The Shabaab is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government. In October it carried out it’s deadliest-ever bombing, killing over 500 people.

In the wake of that attack, Somalia’s government declared a fresh offensive against the group and US drone strikes have increased in frequency.

While the militant group was pushed out of the capital in 2011 by an African Union force it continues to control large parts of the countryside and launches regular attacks on government, military and civilian targets.

AFP

Car Bombs Kill 18 In Somali Capital

 

This file photo shows the scene of a car bombing in Mogadishu on October 29, 2017. Photo: Mohamed ABDIWAHAB / AFP

 

At least 18 people were killed and 20 wounded when two car bombs exploded on Friday near the presidential palace and a hotel in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, the city’s main ambulance service said.

Jihadist rebels claimed the attack.

“We have so far collected 18 bodies and 20 wounded persons from one of the blast scenes,” Abdukadir Abdurahman Aden of the Aamin Ambulance told AFP.

The bombings targeted the presidential palace and a city hotel, police said.

The first blast, followed by gunfire, occurred at a checkpoint close to Villa Somalia, the name for the seat of government, while a second followed soon after at a hotel.

“I can confirm an attack in the vicinity of the presidential palace,” said police officer Ibrahim Mohamed.

“Another car loaded with explosives went off close to a recently opened hotel,” Mohamed added.

The Shabaab Islamist militant group claimed the attacks in a statement posted online, saying it was targeting the government and security services.

The blasts follow weeks of relative calm in Mogadishu.

According to officials, the main attack involved the use of a vehicle loaded with explosives attempting to breach a checkpoint leading to the presidential palace but security forces prevented the assault.

“The security forces foiled the intent of the terrorists. They were aiming for key targets but they could not even go closer, there were five of them killed by the security force,” said Abdulahi Ahmed, a security officer.

“The situation is back to normal and the security forces are in control,” he added.

The Shabaab is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government. In October it carried out its deadliest-ever bombing, killing over 500 people.

In the wake of that attack Somalia’s government declared a fresh offensive against the group and US drone strikes have increased in frequency.

While the militant group was pushed out of the capital in 2011 by an African Union force it continues to control large parts of the countryside and launches regular attacks on government, military and civilian targets.

AFP

Somalia Sacks Security Chiefs As Attack Toll Hits 27

Somali security forces and civilians walk among damages at the scene of a blast on October 29, 2017, a day after two car bombs exploded in Mogadishu. Mohamed ABDIWAHAB / AFP

The death toll from a deadly attack on a hotel in Mogadishu rose to 27 on Sunday, prompting the Somali government to sack its police and intelligence chiefs.

The move came after Al-Qaeda aligned Shabaab gunmen staged coordinated bomb attacks Saturday outside the Nasa Hablod Hotel 2 before storming the building.

Two weeks ago, Mogadishu was hit by a massive truck bombing that killed 358 people in the troubled country’s worst-ever attack.

Saturday’s carnage was unleashed when a car bomb exploded outside the hotel entrance followed by a minibus loaded with explosives going off at a nearby intersection.

The gunmen then rushed into the popular hotel, launching a siege that lasted several hours.

Officials had initially given a toll of 14 dead, saying “most” of the casualties were civilians although a senior police official and a former MP were among them.

“Five gunmen stormed the building, two of them were killed and the rest captured alive,” security ministry spokesman Abdiasiz Ali Ibrahim told reporters.

Sporadic gunfire could be heard inside the building where the gunmen had holed up, but several people managed to escape, officials said.

“Most people fled the hotel through a back door but some are still trapped inside,” Mohamed Dek told AFP after managing to escape the hotel after the initial explosion.

“I was very lucky.”

The Shabaab claimed the attack in a statement on its Andalus radio station, saying it was a hotel where “apostate officials” were staying.

– ‘Serious accountability’ –

The latest toll was given by Security Minister Mohamed Abukar Islow at a cabinet meeting at which ministers approved the dismissal of intelligence agency boss Abdillahi Mohamed Sanbalooshe and police chief Abdihakim Dahir Said.

The two were “fired for the purpose of serious accountability,” said a statement, which also said police were interrogating the three captured gunmen.

The removal of the officials comes soon after the abrupt resignation of Somalia’s defence minister and army chief on October 12, both of whom quit without explanation just two days before the massive truck bombing.

Although a new army chief was named the same day, General Abdi Jama Warsame, the defence portfolio remains vacant.

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed swiftly condemned Saturday’s attack, saying it would not halt the country’s determination to fight back.

“The violent terrorists carried out this attack to scare our people who are united to support security after the disaster on October 14. Such atrocities will neither deter nor discourage our will to fight the terrorists,” he said in a statement.

In Sunday’s statement, the information minister said five people had so far been arrested in connection with the October 14 attack.

To date, no group has claimed responsibility for the truck bombing, though Shabaab militants have been widely blamed.

The Nasa Hablod 2 is a popular hotel located in the north of the city whose sister hotel, the Nasa Hablod, was hit by Shabaab militants in June 2016, in an attack that killed 11 people, including a junior minister.

The Shabaab has made attacks on hotels — commonly beginning with a suicide car bombing followed by an invasion by gunmen — a regular strategy in its decade-long battle to overthrow successive internationally-backed governments in Mogadishu.

The Shabaab lost its foothold in Mogadishu in 2011 but has continued its fight, launching regular attacks on military, government and civilian targets in the capital and elsewhere.

AFP

Many Killed As As Car Bombs Explode In Mogadishu

This file photo taken on October 15, 2017, shows Somali soldiers patrolling on the scene of the explosion of a truck bomb in the centre of Mogadishu. Mohamed ABDIWAHAB / AFP

A car packed with explosives blew up outside a hotel in Mogadishu on Saturday as a minibus also exploded at a nearby junction, with the emergency services reporting “many dead bodies”.

Witnesses reported hearing gunfire and said the entire area around the Nasa Hablod hotel was sealed off by security forces to keep people away.

“A car loaded with explosives went off at the entrance of Nasa Hablod Hotel and there is gunfire,” police official Ibrahim Mohamed told AFP, saying it looked like a coordinated attack.

“There was another minibus loaded with explosives which went off a nearby intersection,” he said, confirming there were casualties but without giving an initial number.

The blasts occurred just two weeks after a huge truck bombing in the Somali capital which killed at least 358 people, making it the deadliest attack in the country’s history.

Somalia’s Aamin ambulance service said there were “many dead bodies” in a posting on its official Twitter feed, adding that it had already evacuated 15 wounded people from the area.

An AFP correspondent at the scene also reported seeing two people lying on the ground but their condition was not immediately clear.

The Nasa Hablod is a popular hotel located in the north of the city.

AFP

276 Persons Dead In Somalia’s Deadliest Bombing

Somalia's Deadliest Bombing Kills 276, Injures 300
A picture taken on October 15, 2017 shows a general view of the scene of the explosion of a truck bomb in the centre of Mogadishu. A truck bomb exploded outside a hotel at a busy junction in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on October 14, 2017 PHOTO: Mohamed ABDIWAHAB / AFP

Desperate Somalis searched for news of missing loved-ones on Monday after 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.

AFP

Somalia’s Deadliest Bombing Kills 276, Injures 300

a general view of the scene of the explosion of a truck bomb in the centre of Mogadishu.  ABDIWAHAB / AFP

Desperate Somalis searched for news of missing loved-ones on Monday, after 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.

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.

Read Also: Three Dead In Ghana As Gas Truck Fire Causes Explosions

The blast occurred at a junction 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.

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 no to avail, the family is now 99 percent convinced she is dead, I saw so many severed pieces of human flesh at the hospitals, you cannot even look at them,” he added.

– ‘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.

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.

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”.

Activist Abukar Sheik added: “There is no house in which people are not crying today.”

A regional security expert said it was likely the truck bomb was triggered before it reached its true target.

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.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani wrote on Twitter that the country’s embassy had been badly damaged in the blast and one of its top officials wounded.

Somali journalists and Red Cross workers were also among those killed.

AFP

Somalia’s Deadliest Bombing Kills 276, Injures 300

Somalia's Deadliest Bombing Kills 276, Injures 300
A picture taken on October 15, 2017 shows a general view of the scene of the explosion of a truck bomb in the centre of Mogadishu. Mohamed ABDIWAHAB / AFP

At least 276 people have been killed and 300 injured by a massive truck bomb that tore through a busy shopping district of Mogadishu, the government said Monday, making it the deadliest attack ever to hit conflict-torn Somalia.

Desperate residents of the capital searched for news of missing relatives after the monster explosion on Saturday afternoon destroyed several nearby buildings, leaving victims burned beyond recognition.

“Somalia Federal government confirmed that 276 people were killed in the blast… and 300 wounded were admitted at the different hospitals in Mogadishu,” the country’s ministry of information said.

“There is still a national rescue operation” underway, the ministry said in a statement, adding that there would be “national mourning and prayers for the victims” in the coming days.

Police official Ibrahim Mohamed told AFP that many of the victims were “burned beyond recognition” in what he described as “the deadliest attack ever.”

The government statement said an emergency centre had been set up in the capital for people to seek information abut their loved ones.

“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,” said Abdulahi Nuradin, who was helping in the search.

“We went to several hospitals to seek any information but no to avail, the family is now 99 percent convinced she is dead, I saw so many severed pieces of human flesh at the hospitals, you cannot even look at them,” he added.

– Worst attack –

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.

In February a suicide car bomb in a market left 39 dead shortly after Shabaab fighters threatened a “vicious war” against the newly elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, widely known as Farmajo.

Saturday’s blast, the worst in Somalia’s history, came six years after Shabaab militants were pushed out of Mogadishu by the 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.

“This is the most painful incident I can remember,” the deputy speaker of the Somali Senate Abshir Ahmed said in a Facebook post after visiting the Medina hospital where many of the victims had been taken.

Saturday’s blast was widely condemned, including by the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Turkey and the African Union.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Ankara was sending planes “with medical supplies”, adding that the wounded would be flown to Turkey and treated there. The country is a leading donor and investor in Somalia.

– ‘Targeting innocent people’ –

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”.

Activist Abukar Sheik added: “There is no house in which people are not crying today.”

The explosion occurred at a junction in Hodan, a bustling commercial district which has many shops, hotels and businesses in the city’s northwest.

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.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani wrote on Twitter that the country’s embassy had been badly damaged in the blast and one of its top officials wounded.

AFP

Somalia Security Forces kill Minister

Somalia Election: Mohamed Abdullahi Emerges As PresidentSomalia’s security forces have shot dead a Government Minister, Abdullahi Sheikh Abas  after mistaking him for a Militant Islamist. 

Officials said the 31-year-old was killed in his vehicle near the Presidential palace in Mogadishu.

Mr Abas, the Public Works Minister became the country’s youngest lawmaker last November, when he defeated a former Minister.

The Information Minister, Abdirahman Osman, said several people had been arrested but did not give details.

Much of Somalia is still under the control of Militant Islamist group Al-Shabab, which is affiliated to Al-Qaeda.

Somali Islamists Say Base Attacked, One Of Their Fighters Killed

somalia islamistsIslamist group Al Shabaab said it fought off an attack on one of its bases in southern Somalia early on Wednesday that was launched by foreign commandos who flew in on two helicopters, leaving one Al Shabaab fighter dead in the gun battle.

Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, did not identify the nationality of the troops who launched the assault at about 1 a.m. in the Awdigle district of Lower Shabelle area, about 50 km (30 miles) south of Mogadishu.

Several foreign nations have been supporting the Somali government’s efforts to combat Al Shabaab’s insurgency.

The AMISOM peacekeeping force is made up of troops from several African nations which has been fighting alongside the Somali army. An AMISOM spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

U.S. officials said in 2014 that U.S. military advisers had secretly operated in Somalia since around 2007. They also said at that time that Washington planned to deepen its security assistance to help Somalia fend off the Islamist threat.

Washington said it launched air strikes on another al Shabaab base on Saturday killing more than 150 Islamist fighters. Al Shabaab said the number was exaggerated.

It was not immediately possible to obtain any U.S. comment.

Al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman told Reuters the two helicopters landed on the banks of the River Shabelle and commandos from the aircraft advanced on the base.

“They were masked and spoke foreign languages which our fighters could not understand,” Abu Musab told Reuters. “We do not know who they were but we foiled them.”

He said the commandos carried rocket launchers and M16 rifles – referring to a weapon used by U.S. forces although Abu Musab did not mention any nationality.

Residents in the area confirmed there had been a gun battle and said they saw helicopters in the area. They said the mobile phone network did not work during fighting.

“We were awoken by exchange of heavy guns,” said resident Ahmed Farah speaking by phone later on Wednesday. “We could see the helicopters land and fly.”

He said al Shabaab later sealed the area so it was not possible to know if there were any casualties.

Al Shabaab, which wants to topple the Western-backed Somali government, has launched a spate of bombings in Mogadishu and elsewhere in the past two weeks, killing dozens of people. A car bomb killed at least three police officers on Wednesday.

US Strike Kills 150 Somali Militants

Somali MilitantsThe Pentagon said that over 150 Al-Shabab militants in Somalia have been killed in a US air strike.

Spokesman, Captain Jeff Davis, said that the strike hit a training camp where a “large-scale” attack was being planned.

The strike launched on the militants by both drones and manned aircraft, took place on Saturday and targeted Raso Camp, a training facility about 120 miles north of the capital, Mogadishu.

Mr Davis said that the camp had been under surveillance for some time.

The group has said it carried out a string of recent attacks including a twin bomb at a busy restaurant in the Somali city of Baidoa last month.

Also on Monday, the Australian navy said it had seized a huge cache of weapons on a fishing boat off the coast of Oman that was apparently heading for Somalia.

Grenade launchers, machine guns, and 2,000 assault rifles were concealed under fishing nets, a Navy spokesman said.

Al-Shabab, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda, was pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union Peacekeeping Forces in 2011, but has continued to launch frequent attacks in its bid to overthrow the western-backed government.