Yesterday, December 28, a truck bomb exploded at a bustling checkpoint known as “Ex-control Afgoye” during rush hour in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group Al-Shabaab is believed to be behind the attack which has reportedly killed at least 90 people so far and wounded almost 100 people in one of its deadliest bomb attacks “in recent memory.”
The explosion sent a plume of black smoke across the city as people were driving around, going about their daily lives. “When the explosion happened, I was coming out of a nearby tea shop. With my own eyes, I have seen pieces of human beings and blood scattered around,” said police sergeant and eye witness, Osman Abdulle.
Two Turkish engineers, many university students and police officers working nearby are amongst the dead. Turkey is a major donor to Somalia, especially since the 2011 famine, and has been working on several infrastructure and medical projects in the country.
According to officials, a minibus transporting about 15 to 20 Benadir University students was completely destroyed in the explosion. Civilian buses in the queue at a taxation point nearby were the prime target of the suicide bomber, including the Benadir University student bus heading to school.
Attacks in recent years
Also on December 3, 2009, a suicide bomber attacked a graduation ceremony organized by Benadir University for its medical students – thus making this the second time students from the same university have fallen victim to terrorist attacks. A total of 30 people, including 14 medical students, lecturers and doctors were among the casualties from the attack ten years ago which injured 50 others.
The attack shook Benadir University and the entire education sector in Somalia, which was being restored at the time despite the absence of a strong, functioning government.
The deadliest attack carried out by terrorists in recent years took place on 14 October 2017 when two truck bombings in Mogadishu killed at least 587 people and injured 316 others. An area the size of “two or three football fields” was completely annihilated in the twin bombings. Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed declared three days of mourning after the bombings and appealed for blood donations for the wounded victims.
On December 10, 2019, five militants entered an elite hotel and proceeded to the roof, firing on people down below. The seven-hour long hotel siege resulted in four civilian deaths and six wounded.
Since 2004, Al-Shabaab has reportedly continuously been terrorizing the nation by carrying out numerous kidnappings and suicide bombings, targetting crowds and tourist areas.