A massive car bomb exploded during rush hour on Saturday morning in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, leaving at least 79 people dead and nearly twice as many wounded, the Washington Examiner reported.
According to Somali government spokesman Ismael Mukhtar, the bombing occurred around 8 a.m. local time at a busy security checkpoint situated on the outskirts of the capital city.
Mukhtar said most of the victims were university students, though some were other civilians and security personnel like soldiers and police officers.
It has been estimated that more than 149 people were injured in the terrible blast. Some have expressed concern that the death till will rise to higher than 79; bodies are still being discovered amid the rubble.
The likely culprit
According to the Examiner, credit for the bombing has already been claimed by al-Shabaab, a well-known radical Islamic terror organization that has previously been aligned with al-Qaida as well as the Islamic State.
Al-Shabaab has been waging a campaign of terror in Somalia and neighboring nations in eastern Africa for more than a decade as it aims to topple the internationally-backed, yet fragile Somali central government.
German media outlet DW reported that the jihadist group had been largely pushed out of Mogadishu several years ago, but it still continues to target the city with intermittent attacks on high-profile targets. While bombings appear to be their favored form of attack, the group is also known to conduct mass shooting-style assaults, including one just two weeks ago at a hotel popular with politicians that left at least five people dead.
According to DW, some officials in Mogadishu have already claimed that the death toll from the most recent blast has risen to as many as 90 victims, though that has yet to be confirmed.
“We will confirm the exact number of the dead later, but it is not going to be small,” the mayor of Mogadishu, Omar Muhamoud, told reporters, according to DW.
A promise of swift justice
The bombing was immediately condemned as a “horrendous crime” that demanded swift justice by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed minced no words in condemning the “heinous act of terror” committed by al-Shabaab.
“This enemy works to implement the destructive will of international terrorism; they have never done anything positive for this our country, they have not constructed a road, never built hospitals and not education centers as well,” the president said in a statement released by national news agency SONNA, according to the BBC. “All they do is destruction and killing, and the Somali public are well informed about this.”
Hopefully, the terrorists who perpetrated this horrific act of violence will be quickly identified so justice can be swiftly delivered. This should be considered an act of war.