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Somalia Truck Bombing Toll Over 300    10/16 06:25

   MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- The death toll from Saturday's truck bombing in 
Somalia's capital is now over 300, the director of an ambulance service said 
Monday, as this country reeled from the deadliest single attack it's ever 
experienced.

   More people have died of their wounds in the past few hours, said Dr. 
Abdulkadir Adam of Aamin Ambulance. Funerals have continued and the government 
said the death toll is expected to rise.

   Saturday's truck bombing targeted a crowded street in Mogadishu, and about 
300 others were injured. Somalia's government is blaming the al-Qaida-linked 
al-Shabab extremist group, which has not commented.

   More than 70 critically injured people were being airlifted to Turkey for 
treatment on Monday as international aid began to arrive, said officials. 
Nervous relatives stood on the tarmac at the airport, praying for the recovery 
of their loved ones.

   Overwhelmed hospitals in Mogadishu were struggling to assist other badly 
wounded victims, many burned beyond recognition.

   The attack was one of the worst in the world in recent years. It is one of 
the deadliest attacks in sub-Saharan Africa, larger than the Garissa University 
attack in Kenya in 2015, in which 148 died, and the U.S. Embassy bombings in 
Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, in which about 219 were killed.

   In addition to Tukey, Kenya and Ethiopia have offered to send medical aid in 
response to what Somali's government has called a "national disaster," said 
Information Minister Abdirahman Osman.

   Al-Shabab, Africa's deadliest Islamic extremist group, often targets 
high-profile areas of Mogadishu. Earlier this year, it vowed to step up attacks 
after both the Trump administration and Somalia's recently elected president 
announced new military efforts against the group.

   The country's Somali-American leader, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, 
has declared three days of mourning and joined thousands of people who 
responded to a desperate plea by hospitals to donate blood.

   "This is really horrendous, unlike any other time in the past," said Dr. 
Mohamed Yusuf, the director of Medina hospital.

   Exhausted doctors struggled to keep their eyes open, while screams from 
victims and newly bereaved families echoed through the halls.

   Mogadishu, a city long accustomed to deadly bombings by al-Shabab, was 
stunned by the force of Saturday's blast. The explosion shattered hopes of 
recovery in an impoverished country left fragile by decades of conflict, and it 
again raised doubts over the government's ability to secure the seaside city of 
more than 2 million people.

   The United States has condemned the bombing, saying "such cowardly attacks 
reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and 
African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism." It tweeted a photo 
of its charge d'affaires in Somalia donating blood. But the U.S. Africa Command 
said U.S. forces had not been asked to provide aid.

   The U.S. military has stepped up drone strikes and other efforts this year 
against al-Shabab, which is also fighting the Somali military and over 20,000 
African Union forces in the country.

   Saturday's blast occurred two days after the head of the U.S. Africa Command 
was in Mogadishu to meet with Somalia's president, and two days after the 
country's defense minister and army chief resigned for undisclosed reasons.

   The United Nations special envoy to Somalia called the attack "revolting." 
Michael Keating said the U.N. and African Union were supporting the Somali 
government's response with "logistical support, medical supplies and expertise."


(KA)

 
 
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