Mogadishu, Somalia (CNN)At least 79 people are dead and 149 more injured after a massive car bomb exploded at a busy intersection on the outskirts of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, on Saturday, according to a government official.
Somalia suicide car bomb attack rocks capital, killing scores
Government spokesman Ismael Mukhtar Omar also earlier told CNN that the attacker drove his vehicle into the "Ex-control Afgoye" checkpoint, a well-known junction that links the south of Somalia to the capital.
Omar added that university students were among the dead.
The attack happened during rush hour in the Somali capital at about 8 a.m. local time, and civilians and soldiers are among the dead, police said.
Police conduct security searches at the checkpoint, but there is also a taxation office located nearby and the area is heavily populated with civilians and security forces.
Police have warned that the death toll could rise as many of the wounded have been rushed to hospitals.
Images from the scene showed multiple wrecked vehicles with shards of twisted metal nearby as well as a minibus marked with blood.
A national-level response committee was established Saturday to help the injured and offer support to those who lost family members in the attack, Somalia's Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire said in an address to the nation hours after the attack.
Khaire offered his "heartfelt and deep condolences to the families and relatives of the victims" and warned that "this country is in a state of war."
"I want to tell my fellow citizens wherever they are in the world, that the morale of the Somalian people won't be undermined by the terrorists' attacks," Khaire said. "The enemy would be defeated and victory will ultimately be with the Somali people."
The Somali government announced Sunday it had conducted joint airstrikes with US Africa Command (AFRICOM) on an al-Shabaab target inside the country. AFRICOM also confirmed the strikes in a news release.
Omar, the Somali government spokesman, said the air assault was carried out in "response" to the terror attack. A senior al-Shabaab operative was