Somalia Faces Largest Single Terrorist Attack; 300+ Dead

Civilians seen fleeing from the scene of an explosion. Moment captured by Feisal Omar/Reuters.

          Widespread chaos and panic as Somalia faces the largest single attack in the country’s history.

          But what happened? Last Saturday, on October 14th, all seemed normal in the sprawling capital of Mogadishu. All of the sudden  a truck bomb went off outside of a busy hotel junction located in the heart of the city. Not long after the roars another explosion could be felt on nearby streets. Luckily, there are no known casualties of the second blast, according to local police. One truck was filled with makeshift explosives, such as cooking oil, which left a horrifying incendiary effect.

          The damage and devastation left in the wake of the attacks is unsurpassed for the Horn of Africa nation. The initial bomb destroyed dozens of popular vendor stalls with it detonation, and soon the locally renown Safari Hotel fell. Qatar’s Embassy was also damaged, according to their Ministry of Foreign Affairs. So far at least 320 people have been confirmed dead, and another 300 injured. However, the death toll is constantly rising as bodies are still being found in the rubble. The blasts are amongst some of the deadliest attacks in all of sub-Saharan Africa, surpassing tragedies such as the Kenyan Garissa University massacre or the US Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya in the late 90s.

          Though unconfirmed at the time, it is highly speculated by many that the attack was carried out by the Islamic extremist group Al-Shabab. Al-Shabab is linked to the notorious Al-Qaeda, and has made a promise to step up their attacks after the Trump administration and Somalia’s freshly elected president revealed new military efforts to obliterate the terrorist group. As of right now however, the radicalist group has yet to comment, and the bombing goes unclaimed.

Al-Shabab militants training in full gear. Image captured by Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP.

          Currently, mobs of angry protesters have been gathering near the scene of the attacks, demanding answers from their government. Somali officials have declared this as a “national disaster.” Rescue workers, alongside grief stricken families, have been scavenging for survivors and bodies of those who fell victim to the blasts. Doctors and surgeons have been fighting off exhaustion due to the sheer amount of patients. Local hospitals have been so packed that Turkey, an allied nation, has airlifted over 30 severely wounded to their own infirmaries via military air ambulance. So far multiple countries, including Kenya and Turkey, have already offered medical aid.

Somali armed forces and rescue workers gather near a destroyed building. Photo courtesy of Mohamed Abdiwahab – AFP/Getty Images.

        As a tribute to the victims, France’s most renowned monument, the Eiffel Tower, went dark on the Monday that followed the attack. The mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo made the announcement on Twitter, and wrote “We will extinguish @LaTourEiffel at midnight in tribute to the victims of the bombing in #Mogadishu.”

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