Truck bomb in Somalia's capital kills at least 61 people

A view of a destroyed car at the scene of a large explosion near a checkpoint in Mogadishu Somalia

A view of a destroyed car at the scene of a large explosion near a checkpoint in Mogadishu

A auto bomb exploded at a busy security checkpoint in Somalia's capital Saturday morning, killing at least 60 people. "Wounded people were screaming, crying, and shouting for help, while dozens of dead bodies laid around in a pool of blood", one witness, who requested anonymity, told VOA Somali.

Two Turkish brothers were among those killed, Somalia's foreign minister said. Rescuers rushed around 100 wounded, including children, to hospitals. Al-Shabaab often carries out such attacks.

The police were not reachable for comment on casualty numbers. A Somali MP also tweeted that he had been told the death toll stands at more than 90, including 17 police officers.

Abdiqadir Abdirahman, the director of the Aamin Ambulance service, confirmed the 73 dead and said more than 50 others were wounded.

"What happened today was terrible".

A vehicle loaded with explosives has blown up in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Saturday, killing more than 70 people.

Banadir University said they would shut for five days after the disaster. "The people and its government will never be demoralized from achieving our development goals and the rebuilding of our country".

"Saturday's tragedy has become a lesson learned since the country is in a state of war, we need to be vigilant against the terror attacks, since the primary goal of terrorists is to cause maximum damage to everybody", he said.

"He stressed that the perpetrators of this horrendous crime must be brought to justice", a statement by his spokesperson said.

Sakariye Abdukadir, who was near the area when the auto bomb detonated, said the blast "destroyed several of my vehicle windows".

'All I could see was scattered dead bodies [.] amid the blast and some of them burned beyond recognition'.

A view of a destroyed auto at the scene of a large explosion near a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia.

"We will seek medical assistance outside the country for those whose health situation can not be dealt with inside the country, the prime minister told Radio Mogadishu".

Many people, including students in buses, were passing through the area when the blast occurred, according to AFP.

The group has been the target of a growing number of US airstrikes since US President Donald Trump took office in 2016.

Al Shabaab pledged loyalty to al Qaeda in 2012, as the insurgency battled African Union peacekeepers.

The following year, its fighters fled positions they once held in the capital Mogadishu, and have since lost many strongholds.

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