17 dead in Somalia car bomb attack - GulfToday

17 dead in Somalia car bomb attack

Somalia-Blast

Medical workers help a man who was wounded in a car bomb attack in Mogadishu on Monday. Associated Press

At least 17 people were killed and 28 others wounded when a bomb went off outside a hotel near the international airport in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Monday, medical officials said.

The Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab, which is trying to topple Somalia’s weak UN-backed government, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The city’s Madina hospital received 17 bodies and 28 people with injuries, 12 of them in a critical condition, said Mohammed Yusuf, the hospital’s director.

The powerful explosion which rocked Mogadishu occurred in the morning when many people were on the road going to work and others were travelling to attend the Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah.

Many of the victims injured by the bomb blast have suffered critical wounds, said witnesses.

Ambulance sirens echoed across the blast scene as soldiers at a nearby checkpoint fired in the air to disperse onlookers who gathered nearby and to stop motorists trying to speed through the site amid the chaos.

The blast went off at the first checkpoint on the road that leads to Mogadishu airport, said Farah Hussein, a shopkeeper who witnessed the attack.

Somalia has been riven by civil war since 1991, when clan warlords overthrew a dictator, then turned on each other.

Abdullahi Ahmed, a security officer who witnessed the blast, said at least five people were killed in the attack, which appeared to be targeting the hotel.

“I can confirm the death of five people: three civilians and two government security officers at the checkpoint,” he said.

“The area was relatively dense with bystanders and some were killed and wounded in the blast, but we don’t have the exact number of casualties.”

Other witnesses describing being knocked to the ground by the force of the blast, which damaged nearby buildings.

“I was not very far away from where the blast occurred, and I could see several people lying (on the ground), some of them dead with a pool of blood,” said one, Abdikarim Mohamed.

“The blast was huge. It did damage to several nearby buildings.” Suado Ali was walking out of a travel agency when the shockwave knocked her flat.

Agencies