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Somalia Blast Toll Above 270 as African Union Calls for Help

Updated on
  • Attack in busy central area injured at least 300 people
  • Islamist militants regularly carry out attacks on Mogadishu

A woman walks by wreckages of vehicles following the explosion of a truck bomb in the centre of Mogadishu, on Oct. 14.

Photographer: Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP via Getty Images

The death toll from a truck-bomb blast in Somalia’s capital climbed to 276 people, as the African Union urged greater international backing for the government’s fight against extremists.

The explosion, the nation’s deadliest single attack, injured 300 others, according to an emailed statement by the Information Ministry. The blast occurred Saturday in Mogadishu’s busy central K5 Junction area, damaging buildings including the popular Safari Hotel, according to witnesses. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

People carry a body following an explosion in Mogadishu, Oct. 15.

Photographer: Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP via Getty Images

Somalia’s army, with the backing of an African Union force and increased U.S. support, is trying to quash al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked Islamist-militant group that has waged a decade-long war to impose its version of Islamic law in Somalia. While the group was driven out of Mogadishu in 2011, it still stages regular gun and bomb attacks.

“The barbaric attack points to a trend in which areas known for vibrant activity and thriving businesses are targeted,” the African Union Mission in Somalia said in an emailed statement. “The cowardly act attests to the deliberate effort by al-Shabaab to deter progress being made by hardworking Somalis to stabilize their country.”

The African Union urged the international community to support a “more coordinated and robust international support” to Somalia’s institutions in their fight against extremist groups.

“It is now clear that without adequate and appropriate support to Somalia, many of the security gains made in recent years could be reversed,” it said in a statement.

The Turkish government sent doctors while neighboring nations including Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia agreed to provide medical supplies, according to the Information Ministry statement.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo declared three days of mourning and ordered flags flown at half-staff after the bombing.

(Updates with death toll from first paragraph.)
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