Death toll in Somalia attacks exceeds 300, Turkish minister visits capital

Death toll in Somalia attacks exceeds 300, Turkish minister visits capital

MOGADISHU
Death toll in Somalia attacks exceeds 300, Turkish minister visits capital

The death toll from twin bomb attacks in the Somali capital Mogadishu has exceeded 300, as Turkish Health Minister Ahmet Demircan arrived in the city on Oct. 16 as a show of support and to speed up coordination in transferring the wounded to Turkey. 

The death toll from twin bomb attacks in the Somali capital Mogadishu has exceeded 300, as Turkish Health Minister Ahmet Demircan arrived in the city on Oct. 16 as a show of support and to speed up coordination in transferring the wounded to Turkey. 

The death toll has steadily risen since Oct. 14, when the blasts struck at two busy junctions in the heart of the city, leaving 300 others wounded. 

Security officials said hundreds of people had been in the area at the time of the blast, with police saying it was difficult to get a precise number of victims because the bodies had been taken to different medical centers while others had been taken directly by their relatives for burial.

Dr. Abdulkadir Adam of Aamin Ambulance service told the Associated Press that more people had died of their wounds in the past few hours. Funerals began, and the death toll was expected to rise again after the country’s deadliest single attack it has ever experienced.

Ankara announced that it was lending a helping hand to the wounded on Oct. 15, with Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın saying that a military air ambulance headed to the country to provide medical aid and bring the wounded people to Turkey upon the orders of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

A day later, Demircan arrived in Mogadishu with a delegation and was greeted by a group of high-level Somali officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Ahmed, his counterpart Fowsiya Abiikar Nur and Foreign Minister Yusuf Garaad Omar.

Speaking at a press conference, Demircan said the Turkish government and people are sharing the pain of the Somalis, adding that health personnel and medical equipment were sent to the country. 

Ahmed, in return, thanked Turkey and said “the aid reflects the strong bonds between the countries,” state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Oct. 16. 

Moreover, teams from Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Turkish Red Crescent were sent to Mogadishu to participate in the search and rescue operations. 

AFAD head Mehmet Güllüoğlu also arrived in Somalia to follow the efforts closely. 

Some of those seriously injured were moved by ambulance to the airport early on Oct. 16 to be flown to Turkey for further treatment. 

Workers unloaded boxes of medicine and other medical supplies from a Turkish military plane parked on the tarmac, while Turkish medical teams attended the cases of injuries moved from the hospital for evacuation.

Desperate residents of the capital searched for news of missing relatives after the atrocious explosion on the afternoon of Oct. 14 destroyed several nearby buildings, leaving victims burned beyond recognition.

“There is still a national rescue operation” underway, the information ministry said in a statement, adding that there would be “national mourning and prayers for the victims” in the coming days.

The government statement said an emergency center had been set up in the capital for people to seek information about their loved ones.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, but al-Shabaab, a militant group aligned with Al-Qaeda, carries out regular suicide bombings in Mogadishu in its bid to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government.

In February, a suicide car bomb in a market left 39 dead shortly after al-Shabaab militants threatened a “vicious war” against the newly elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, widely known as Farmajo.

The Oct. 14 attacks came six years after al-Shabaab militants were pushed out of Mogadishu by the African Union and Somali troops.

While they were also pushed out of major towns across southern Somalia, the militants still control rural areas and launch attacks on military, government and civilian targets in Somalia, as well as terrorist raids in the neighboring Kenya.

“This is the most painful incident I can remember,” the deputy speaker of the Somali Senate Abshir Ahmed said in a Facebook post after visiting the Medina hospital where many of the victims had been taken.

The attack was widely condemned, including by the United States, Britain, Canada, France and the African Union.

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

Farmajo declared three days of mourning as he visited the attack site and then met with some of the wounded at a nearby hospital.

“Today’s incident was a horrible attack carried out by al-Shabaab against innocent civilians that was not aimed at specific Somali government targets,” he said in a televised address to the nation.    

“This shows how these violent elements are ruthlessly and indiscriminately targeting innocent people.” 

Mogadishu’s mayor Tabid Abdi Mohamed also visited those wounded in the blast and said the horror of the attack was “unspeakable.”

“There is no tragedy worse than when someone comes to the dead body of their relative and cannot recognize them.” 

Hundreds of people, chanting anti-violence slogans and wearing red or white bandanas around their heads in a show of grief, took to the streets of Mogadishu on Oct. 15 to condemn the deadly attack that has shocked Somalis.

“We have seen what the terrorists can mercilessly do by shedding the blood of innocent civilians,” the mayor told the protesters after they ended their march at a square in southern Mogadishu

“We need to stand united against them,” he added.

Somalia, blast, Mogadishu