Somalia: Bomb blast outside hotel in Mogadishu; 231 killed
The death toll from the most powerful bomb blast witnessed in Somalia's capital rose to 231 with more than 275 injured, making it the deadliest single attack ever in this Horn of Africa nation, a senator said Sunday.
Government security official Mohamed Aden said that bombing took place in a busy part of the city. The explosion was followed by gunfire between security forces and armed men around and inside the popular Safari Hotel.
According to a witness, a vehicle loaded with explosives exploded at the junction of KM5 just opposite Safari hotel. Most of the dead were civilians. Security forces have sealed off the blast site for investigation.
Windowpanes and doors in buildings far from the scene were destroyed.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed declared three days of mourning and joined thousands of people who responded to a desperate plea by hospitals to donate blood. "I am appealing all Somali people to come forward and donate," he said.
Angry protesters gathered near the scene of the attack as Somalia's government blamed the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group for what it called a "national disaster." However, al-Shabab, which often targets high-profile areas of the capital with bombings, had yet to comment.
"They don't care about the lives of Somali people, mothers, fathers and children," Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire said. "They have targeted the most populated area in Mogadishu, killing only civilians."