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30.12.2019 Mali

Death toll in Somalia bombing climbs to 81: govt

By AFP
A Turkish military plane arrived on Sunday to evacuate Turkish nationals among the more than 200 casualties in the blast.  By Abdirazak Hussein FARAH (AFP)
LISTEN DEC 30, 2019
A Turkish military plane arrived on Sunday to evacuate Turkish nationals among the more than 200 casualties in the blast. By Abdirazak Hussein FARAH (AFP)

The death toll from a massive car bomb in the Somali capital has risen to 81, a government spokesman said Monday, as rescue workers pursued their search for the missing.

The bombing Saturday at a busy intersection in Mogadishu was the country's deadliest attack in two years.

No one has claimed responsibility, though President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed blamed Islamist group Al-Shabaab, which has regularly carried out car bombings and other attacks as part of its decade-long bid to topple the internationally-backed government.

"The overall number of the dead stands at 81 currently. Two more people died from their injuries," Ismail Muktar, a spokesman for Somalia's information ministry, told AFP Monday.

One of the new fatalities was among the injured who had been evacuated to Turkey via a Turkish military plane on Sunday, Muktar said.

Muktar said the death toll could climb further as rescue operations entered a third day.

Around two dozen people were listed as missing after the attack, but 12 have been located -- five of them dead -- and the rest remain unaccounted for, he said.

Some 125 people were injured in Saturday's blast, a caseload that has overwhelmed health facilities in Mogadishu.

At least 16 of those killed were students from the capital's private Banadir University, who had been travelling on a bus when the car bomb detonated.

The attack was the biggest to hit Somalia since a truck exploded in 2017 near a fuel tanker in Mogadishu, creating a fireball that killed over 500 people.

Al-Shabaab was blamed for that strike too, though it never formally claimed responsibility -- as it often does not do when there is a large amount of civilian casualties.

The United States military said Sunday it had killed four "terrorists" in three airstrikes targeting Al-Shabaab.

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said two militants were killed and two vehicles destroyed in Qunyo Barrow, while two more militants were killed in Caliyoow Barrow.

The US regularly carries out airstrikes in Somalia, though the frequency of such operations has risen sharply this year.

In an April statement AFRICOM said it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

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