Car bomb in Somali capital kills at least 61

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The toll was likely to rise after the explosion at a busy checkpoint, an ambulance official said

Dec 28, 2019

December 28, 2019

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A bomb blast at a busy checkpoint in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Saturday killed at least 61 people and wounded dozens, according to an ambulance service official.

"So far, we've carried 61 dead people and 51 others injured. There are more casualties and the death toll is sure to rise," Abdikadir Abdirahman Haji Aden, founder of Aamin ambulances, said.

It was one of the deadliest attacks in Mogadishu in recent memory.

Captain Mohamed Hussein said the blast targeted a tax collection centre during the morning rush hour as Somalia returned to work after its weekend.

Children were among the wounded. Also among them were several university students who had been traveling in a bus, Hussein said. Photos from the scene showed the mangled frames of vehicles.

A large black plume of smoke rose above the capital.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. The Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab often carries out such attacks. The extremist group was pushed out of Mogadishu several years ago but continues to target high-profile areas such as checkpoints and hotels in the seaside city.

The attack again raises concern about the readiness of Somali forces to take over responsibility for the Horn of Africa country's security in the coming months from an African Union force.

Al-Shabab, the target of a growing number of US airstrikes since President Donald took office, controls parts of Somalia's southern and central regions. It funds itself with a "taxation" system that experts describe as extortion of businesses and travellers that brings in millions of dollars a year.

Updated: December 28, 2019 01:12 PM

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