Somalia’s president has issued an urgent plea for international help for wounded victims of devastating car bombings at the weekend that claimed the lives of 100 people.
Bulldozers were continuing to clear the blast site in the capital Mogadishu on Monday in the hunt for bodies feared trapped under the rubble.
Saturday’s attack, which also wounded more than 300 people, was claimed by the Al-Shabaab jihadist group and was the deadliest in the fragile Horn of Africa nation in five years.
“We appeal for the international community, Somali brothers, and other Muslim brothers and or partners to send doctors to Somalia to help the hospitals treat the wounded people,” President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said in a statement Sunday.
He warned that the death toll could rise, as ill-equipped hospitals were swamped.
Somalia has one of the world’s weakest health systems after decades of conflict.
“We cannot airlift all these numbers of wounded people... anyone who can send us we request to send us,” said Mohamud, who himself has donated blood for the victims.
Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre has ordered schools closed so that students can take part in a national blood donation drive.
The World Health Organisation said on Sunday it was ready to help the government treat the injured and provide trauma care.
Al-Shabaab, an Islamist group linked to Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack in which two cars packed with explosives blew up minutes apart near the city’s busy Zobe intersection, followed by gunfire.
It said in a statement it had targeted the country’s ministry of education.
The explosions tore through walls and shattered windows of nearby buildings, sending shrapnel flying and plumes of smoke and dust into the air.
Ali Yare Ali, a local government official in Mogadishu, told reporters that between seven and nine bodies were suspected to be under the rubble of buildings destroyed by the blasts.
Somalia’s allies denounced the bombings, with the United States, the United Nations and the African Union among those issuing messages of support.
The attack tests the government’s ability to secure the conflict-weary nation, including the capital of nearly 2.5 million people.
“The Somali nation and these terrorists are at war, as I speak now, there is fighting ongoing in many parts of the country,” Mohamud said Sunday.
“We are at war with them, and we are killing each other.”
The attack took place at the same busy junction where a truck packed with explosives blew up on October 14, 2017, killing 512 people and injuring more than 290, the deadliest attack in Somalia.
Al-Shabaab fighters have stepped up their attacks in Somalia since Mohamud was elected in May and vowed an “all-out-war” on the Islamists.
The insurgents have been seeking to overthrow the fragile foreign-backed government in Mogadishu for about 15 years.
Al-Shabaab fighters were driven out of the capital in 2011 by an African Union force but the group still controls swathes of countryside and continues to wage deadly strikes on civilian, political and military targets.