by Rehan Qamar
“Aamin ambulance service was established in 2008 and we have never seen such devastation. Not even in our dreams,” Abdulkadir Abdirahman, director of Mogadishu’s ambulance service, told Al Jazeera.
At least 300 people were killed with hundreds seriously injured in an attack being blamed on the extremist group al-Shabaab.
The bombing which hit the center of Mogadishu on Saturday Oct. 14 is being called Somalia’s worst terrorist attack. It has also been deemed one of the most lethal terrorist attacks in the world.
The attack occurred when several hundred kilograms of homemade and military explosives exploded on a busy street. The bomb is thought to have been targeted towards Somalia’s foreign ministry, which was concealed in a truck near a hotel, destroyed several buildings, leaving many in ruins.
According to reports, the Somali government said that the truck had been stopped at a checkpoint and to avoid being searched the driver suddenly accelerated, crashing into a barrier which then exploded. This ignited a fuel tanker parked nearby and resulted in the explosion.
Earlier this week, Somalia’s information minister announced that 276 people had died in the attack with at least 300 people injured. However, within hours Abdirahman told reporters his service had confirmed at least 300 people died in the blast.
“The death toll will still be higher because some people are still missing,” Abdirahman told Reuters.”
“Big buildings were completely destroyed. Buildings crumbled. Vehicles were burned and upside down. The tarmac was covered in flesh, blood and pieces of clothes. Our country has never seen anything even close to this.”
The death toll is rising as more and more victims are being dug up from the rebel spread across the city.
While Al-Shabaab, affiliated to al-Qaida since 2011, has not yet claimed responsibility for the attack many believe the group is to blame. Earlier this year, the group vowed to increase its attacks after President Trump and Somalia’s recently elected president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed announced new military efforts against the group.
The US mission to Somalia made a statement that said, “Such cowardly attacks reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism.”
Witnesses said the attack became worse as many cars were stuck on the road where one of the bombs exploded. Families were described as wandering amongst the rubble and broken vehicles looking for relatives.
“There’s nothing I can say. We have lost everything,” Zainab Sharif, a mother of four who lost her husband in the attack, told reporters.
Somali President Mohamed has declared three days of national mourning and encouraged people to come forward and donate blood.
Various actors in the international community have condemned the attack and offered their aid. According to reports, a Turkish air ambulance landed at Mogadishu airport earlier this week to airlift 50 severely injured people.
Investigators are working on finding out where the military grade explosives originated from. It has been speculated that they were stolen Amisom, an African Union peacekeeping mission, which has about 20,000 troops in the country.
“Every home in Mogadishu has lost someone or know someone that was killed in the explosion. The city is in mourning,” Abdirahman told Al Jazeera.