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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale
Michael Fitzpatrick

Death toll from Al-Shabaab bomb attacks in Somalia climbs to 100

Relatives remove a body from the scene of the double car bomb attack at a busy junction in Mogadishu, Somalia. AP - Farah Abdi Warsameh

The number of people killed in twin car bombings in the Somali capital Mogadishu has risen to 100, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on Sunday. The attacks have been claimed by Al-Shabaab militants.

President Mohamud said he expected the death toll to rise even further. At least 300 people were injured in the blasts.

Two cars packed with explosives blew up minutes apart near the busy Zobe intersection. The explosions were followed by gunfire in an attack targeting Somalia's education ministry.

The blasts tore through walls, shattered windows in nearby buildings, sending shrapnel flying and plumes of smoke and dust into the air.

"The ruthless terrorists killed mothers. Some of them died with their children trapped on their backs," police spokesman Sadik Dudishe said on Saturday, adding that the attackers had been stopped from killing more "innocent civilians and students."

The attack took place at the same busy junction where a truck packed with explosives blew up on 14 October 2017, killing 512 people and injuring more than 290, the deadliest attack in the troubled country.

UN stands resolutely against terrorism

The Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist terror group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement, saying its fighters were targeting the ministry of education.

The bombings drew international condemnation from Somalia's allies, including the United Nations, Turkey as well as the African Union force tasked with helping Somali forces take over primary responsibility for security by the end of 2024.

The UN mission in Somalia, UNSOM, vowed to stand "resolutely with all Somalis against terrorism."

"These attacks underline the urgency and critical importance of the ongoing military offensive to further degrade Al-Shabaab," the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, which replaced the AMISOM peacekeeping force, said on Twitter late Saturday.

Drought and Islamist insurgency

Al-Shabaab have been seeking to overthrow the fragile foreign-backed government in Mogadishu for the past 15 years.

The group last week claimed responsibility for an attack on a hotel in the port city of Kismayo that killed nine people and wounded 47 others.

As well as the insurgency, Somalia is in the grip of the worst drought in more than 40 years. Four failed rainy seasons have wiped out livestock and crops.

The conflict-wracked nation is considered one of the most vulnerable to climate change but is particularly ill-equipped to cope with the crisis as it battles the Islamist insurgency.

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