Truck bomb at Somalia checkpoint kills 78 people

A view of a destroyed car at the scene of a large explosion near a checkpoint in Mogadishu Somalia

A view of a destroyed car at the scene of a large explosion near a checkpoint in Mogadishu

A massive auto bomb exploded in a busy area of Mogadishu on Saturday, leaving at least 78 people dead, many of them university students, in Somalia's deadliest attack in two years. He added that Turkey had sent 24 doctors to treat those wounded who would not be evacuated.

A number of attacks this year, including one in September on a base where U.S. special forces train Somali commandos, show the group maintains a strong intelligence network and can mount deadly and sometimes sophisticated operations, analysts say.

The attack has not been claimed, however Mogadishu is regularly hit by auto bombings and attacks waged by Al-Shabaab Islamist militants allied to Al-Qaeda.

The dead include scores of students and two Turkish nationals. "There can be one or two more people who may be dead" due to the high numbers of those injured, he said.

Mr Mahamat said he was deeply shocked by the Saturday attack in Mogadishu in which dozens of people going about their normal businesses were killed.

Grieving families on Sunday arranged burials and funerals for their loved ones, having endured the anguish of identifying charred corpses and body fragments at the blast site and at hospitals around the city.

This is the deadliest terror strike on the capital of the Somalia in two years.

"All I could see was scattered dead bodies... and some of them burned beyond recognition".

The initial report said the explosion happened during rush hour at a busy checkpoint in the city.

Somali Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad tweeted that numerous dead were "students with ambition, and hardworking men and women".

It claimed responsibility for an attack in January on an upscale hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital that killed 21 people.

"Much of the army and the security establishment is deployed to impose control on allied governments within Somalia, and not deployed to fight al Shabaab - so the government's attention is not focused on defeating the group that was probably behind this atrocity", he said.

The explosion occurred at a checkpoint on a road near governmental buildings. The group had previously relied on military-grade explosives captured during assaults on an African Union peacekeeping force. Some analysts said Al Shabaab didn't dare claim credit as its strategy of trying to sway public opinion by exposing government weakness had badly backfired.

"This explosion is similar like the one ... in 2017".

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