At least 20 people were killed and more than 30 were injured in a massive explosion Friday night in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu, according to the Associated Press.
Initial reports indicated that the blast had killed at least 10, but Somali state-owned media later pegged the number of confirmed deaths at 20, the AP said.
The carnage occurred late Friday when “a vehicle packed with explosives rammed into a popular restaurant,” the AP reported. The restaurant was reportedly “full” of dinner guests at the time.
Several houses near the site of the blast later collapsed, causing more deaths, according to police.
“A speeding car exploded”
At least one witness told Reuters that the blast left the area “covered” with smoke.
“A speeding car exploded at Luul Yamani restaurant. I was going to the restaurant but ran back when the blast shook and covered the area with smoke,” Ahmed Abdullahi, who lives near the restaurant, said.
Somali security official Mohamed Osman told the AFP “the explosion was very strong and caused significant destruction and caused civilian casualties. The operation is still going on to establish the exact number of casualties,” Osman added.
Repeated attacks in Somalia
According to the AP, this isn’t the first time the Luul Yamani restaurant in Mogadishu has been the target of an attack. A similar bombing there last August was said to have left at least four dead.
The Somali capital city of Mogadishu was also the site of a bombing in 2017 that became known as the deadliest single attack in the nation’s history, with nearly 300 dead and hundreds more wounded.
Police blamed Friday’s attack “on the local al-Shabab extremist group, which is linked to al-Qaida and often targets Mogadishu with bombings,” the AP reported.
According to Reuters, repeated violence from al-Shabab in Somalia comes “as part of its campaign to topple the Horn of African country’s central government and establish its own rule based on its strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.” Leaders in Somalia have promised to soon hold elections there for the first time in decades, but recent attempts have failed to come to fruition.
Despite reports from authorities, no group has formally claimed responsibility for the Friday bombing.