Car bombs in Somali education ministry claim dozens of lives

MOGADISHU, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Two car bomb attacks at the Ministry of Education in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu killed or injured dozens on Saturday, police and the state news agency said. .

Authorities said the Islamist group al Shabaab carried out the attack, which they said targeted the education ministry, a junction and a school.

“At 2 p.m., al-Shabaab terrorists carried out two explosions targeting civilians, including children, women and the elderly,” police spokesman Sadiq Doodishe said.

Doodishe said police would give the death toll and the number of injured later. State news agency SONNA said the blasts claimed “dozens of civilian casualties, including freelance journalist Mohamed Isse Kona”.

The Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) has confirmed that Kona, a television journalist, was killed.

The first blast hit the ministry, then the second came as ambulances arrived and people gathered to help the victims, police officer Nur Farah told Reuters.

Another police officer guarding the ministry, named Hassan, told Reuters he saw at least 12 bodies and more than 20 injured people.

A Reuters reporter near the blast site said the two blasts occurred within minutes of each other and shattered nearby windows. Blood from victims of the explosions covered the tarmac just outside the building, he said.

Moments after the explosions, a large plume of smoke rose above the site.

“The second explosion burned our ambulance as we came to transport the injured from the first explosion,” Abdikadir Abdirahman of the Aamin ambulance service told Reuters.

A driver and a rescue worker were injured in the blast, he said.

The attack took place in the same location where Somalia’s largest bombardment took place in the same month in 2017.

In that bombing, which killed more than 500 people, a truck bomb exploded outside a busy hotel at the K5 intersection, lined with government offices, restaurants and kiosks.

Al-Qaeda ally Al Shabaab, which has been fighting in Somalia for more than a decade, seeks to overthrow the central government and establish its own regime based on a strict interpretation of Sharia.

The group uses a bombing campaign both in Somalia and elsewhere and targets include military installations as well as busy hotels, shopping malls and traffic hubs.

In August at least 20 people were killed and dozens injured when al Shabaab militants stormed the Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu, sparking a 30-hour standoff with security forces before the siege finally ended.

Somalia’s new president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud with support United States and allied local militias launched an offensive against the group although the results were limited.

Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Written by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Alison Williams and Angus MacSwan

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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