At least five people died and 23 others were injured after a massive explosion that rocked that of Somalia the capital Mogadishu early Thursday, setting off a plume of smoke that rose from the blast site amid gunfire, according to officials and a Reuters witness.
“So far we know that five people have died and 23 others (have been) injured,” Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Aamin ambulance services, told Reuters.
Somali Islamist group al Shabaab carried out the attack on a passing United Nations convoy, Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group’s military operations spokesman told Reuters.
The explosion near the K4 junction in the heart of Mogadishu was so large that it collapsed the walls of the nearby Mucassar primary and secondary school and also left mutilated cars.
“We were shaken by the pressure of the explosion, then deafened by the gunshots that followed,” said Mohamed Hussein, a nurse at the nearby Osman hospital.
He added that he had been extracted from the rubble of a collapsed ceiling.
“The walls of our hospitals have collapsed. In front of us is a school which also collapsed. I don’t know how many died, ”he said.
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Security officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Al Shabaab has been fighting the Somali central government for years to establish its own regime based on its strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.
The group frequently carries out bombings and gun assaults in Somalia and elsewhere in its war against the Somali army and the African Union-mandated AMISOM force that helps defend the central government .
(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; writing by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Stephen Coates and Lincoln Feast.)