MOGADISHU – The death toll from a devastating truck bomb in Mogadishu has risen to more than 200 after dozens more of the wounded succumbed to their injuries, medical officials said Sunday.
A further 235 people were injured in the attack, according to Mohamed Yusuf, a medical official at Madina hospital in the capital of Mogadishu.
“We have recorded 218 deaths and we could not identify 130 of them because they were burned beyond recognition,” Mohamed told The Messenger Africa.
19 other bodies were recovered from the rubble, according to a police officer.
The count of the dead has kept climbing. As of Monday, Somalia’s information minister Abdurahman Mohamed Osman Yarisow said it stands at 276, with 300 others injured.
Saturday’s explosion went off near the hotel at a busy junction in the capital, witness Mohamed Harun Mohamed said.
The explosion destroyed the hotel building, with dozens of people feared to be under the rubble, senior police officer Mohamed Hassan said on Saturday.
Hassan says the security forces had been tailing the truck before it exploded.
Abdinur Abdulle, a waiter at a nearby restaurant, told the Associated Press, “It’s a disaster… There was a traffic jam and the road was packed with bystanders and cars.”
Another witness, Ismail Yusuf, told Agence France-Presse: “This was very horrible, the bomb went off alongside the busy road and left many people dead. I saw several dead bodies strewn about but could not count them. It was horrible.”
Mogadishu has seen huge truck bombs of this type before but this one could be one of the biggest attacks so far. No group has claimed the responsibility for Saturday’s explosion in the capital, but Al Shabaab carried out similar attacks in and out of the capital city of Mogadishu in the past months.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo has announced three days of national mourning and called on people to help those affected by the attack.
“The flags will be flown at half-mast. Time to unite and pray together,” Mohamed said.