Over 300 people are expected to have died in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, following a double truck bombing on Saturday afternoon.
The vehicles were allegedly loaded with cooking gas, with the first explosion taking place at a busy junction close to government buildings and restaurants, and the second occurring two hours later near the Medina district.
The death toll is likely to rise as ambulance services and rescue teams continue to pull bodies out of the rubble. Over 200 people have been injured and are being taken into nearby hospitals, while more severely injured civilians are reportedly being flown to and treated in Turkey. Thus far, no organisation has claimed responsibility; however, the nature of the attack is largely indicative of the country’s armed militia, Al-Shabaab.
Al-Shabaab, which means ‘the youth’ in Arabic, is an insurgent group in opposition to the Western-backed government, with a priority to impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law in the country. Since its formation in 2006, the country has experienced over a decade of fighting, including an attack on public spaces and pro-Government troops last February, as well as the seizing of the Westgate shopping mall in neighbouring country Kenya in 2013, which had a death toll of over 60 people. In recent years, the organisation has reduced in size and capacity, with some of its key leaders being killed, but this latest attack reminds the international community of its ability to remain a threat to society.
Somalia has suffered violence for decades with the country’s history of unsuccessful transitional governments, political upheaval and now concerns of piracy, too.
The impoverished, war-torn country has another consideration too: famine. United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon has been urging all nations to respond to the crisis which affects approximately 3.1 million people in Somalia alone, according to UN reports, and countries across the Horn of Africa, too.