Blast in Somalia kills 34 in Mogadishu marketplace

Somalia’s new president visited victims wounded by the Mogadishu car bomb that on Sunday killed 34.

President Mohamed Abdulahi Mohamed also offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those who planned the blast.

Many of the dead were carried away by their relatives soon after Sunday’s blast in the western part of Mogadishu, said Capt. Mohamed Hussein.

“It was a horrific and barbaric attack only aimed at killings civilians,” he said from the scene of the blast.

Busy time at market

Ambulance driver Sabriye Abdullahi said some of the injured victims died on their way to the hospitals.

“Many of them suffered extensive third-degree burns and others were burned beyond recognition,” he said.

The blast near a restaurant went off at a busy time when shoppers and traders were gathered inside the market, said district commissioner Ahmed Abdulle.

Mohamed Haji, a butcher who suffered shrapnel wounds, pointed to a clothes shop devastated by the blast. “Someone had parked the car here and left before it was detonated,” he said. Pieces of wood and metal sheets on the ground were all that remained of the shop.

First attack since election

Women sobbed and screamed outside the market as rescue workers moved bloodied bodies and wounded victims into ambulances.

“It’s a painful carnage.” said Ali Mire, a government soldier who was helping a friend with shrapnel wounds.

The powerful explosion was the first major attack since Somalia’s new president was elected on Feb.8. Although no group has yet claimed responsibility, it bears the hallmarks of Somalia’s Islamic extremists rebels, al-Shabaab.

In a Twitter post, President Mohamed condemned the blast, saying that it shows the “cruelty” of al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab’s territory mostly gone

A few hours before the blast, al-Shabaab denounced the new president as an “apostate” and vowed to continue fighting against his government.

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, in a statement condemning the attack, said that “Italy remains solidly on Somalia’s side in the process of the country’s stabilization.” He added that “together we will act so that the terrorists don’t succeed in stopping the path of peace and reconciliation that is underway.”

Al-Shabaab has been able to carry out increasingly deadly bombings despite losing most of its territory to African Union peacekeepers supporting the Somali government.

Civil war has torn apart Somalia since 1991. Aid agencies warn that a severe drought has placed large swaths of the country at risk of famine.

Source: AP

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