Mogadishu bombings kill ‘unprecedented number of civilians’

01:00 - Source: CNN
At least 276 dead in Mogadishu bombings
Mogadishu, Somalia CNN —  

At least 277 people have now been confirmed killed in Saturday’s double car bombing in Mogadishu, making it the deadliest incident in Somalia’s modern history.

Somalia’s Ministry of Information said 300 people remained in hospitals after the October 14 attack.

The number of casualties may rise as rescuers continue to pull more bodies from the rubble, the Ministry said.

Somalia’s Information Minister told CNN Monday that in addition to 277 killed, 40 of those wounded in the attack had injuries too severe to be treated in Mogadishu and were at the airport to be airlifted to Turkey for treatment.

The Office of the President on Sunday announced the nation is in three days of mourning, with the national flag lowered at half-staff to honor those killed.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility.

The initial vehicle bomb destroyed dozens of stalls and a popular hotel in the heart of Mogadishu.

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Footage from the scene showed damaged buildings and a burning truck at the first blast site. A large white building had collapsed into a pile of rubble and other structures appeared blackened and destroyed.

Qatar’s Embassy along the same junction was also severely damaged, according to a statement from its Foreign Affairs. One member of the embassy staff suffered minor injuries, the statement said.

Minutes after the first blast, a second vehicle bomb went off nearby. No casualties have been reported from that second blast, according to police.

Security forces had been tipped off about the vehicle carrying explosives and were pursuing it in the busy K5 district of the city when the explosion happened, said Col. Ahmed Hassan of the Mogadishu police.

The K5 district plays host to numerous government buildings, restaurants and hotels.

Other videos from the scene posted on social media showed a huge plume of black smoke rising from the blast site.

The UK ambassador to Somalia, David Concar, tweeted that the blast was clearly audible from inside the British Embassy. He also posted a video clip showing thick, dark smoke on the skyline.

Michael Keating, special representative of the United Nations secretary-general for Somalia, said he was appalled by the death toll and the scope of the destruction.

“The perpetrators struck a densely populated neighborhood of Mogadishu. They have killed an unprecedented number of civilians. It is a revolting attack both in terms of its intent and impact,” he said.

Mogadishu, a large city on the east African nation’s coast, has endured a lot of violence in recent years.

Somalis also face another threat – starvation.

The country is in the midst of a severe drought and 3.1 million people are threatened by famine because of the food shortages and violence, according to reports from the United Nations this year.

Journalist Omar Nor reported from Mogadishu. CNN’s Farai Sevenzo, James Gray, Susannah Cullinane, Tony Marco, Sarah Faidell, Jomana Karadsheh and Lawrence Viele Davidson contributed to this report.