Somalis protest after truck bomb kills 350

by Connor O’Brien

Smoke billows from the wreckage of a building that was near a truck bomb that went off in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

Thousands of Somalians have taken to the streets of Mogadishu to support anti-terrorism efforts after a truck bomb exploded in the city, killing 358 people and injuring 400.

The bomb went off on Oct. 14 in what is now the deadliest attack in Somalia’s history, according to Al Jazeera. Mogadishu is the capital of Somalia and the most populous city in the East African country.

Details surrounding the bombing still remain unclear, as nobody has claimed responsibility for it and the Somali government has not found a clear motive or intended target of the bombing.

The bombing occurred during the day at a busy intersection in the heart of Mogadishu. However, before the truck bomb, a minivan carrying a smaller bomb was stopped by Somali police. When the police tried to dismantle the bomb, it exploded, but no one was hurt. Somali security officials confirmed that the driver of the minivan has been arrested and questioned, according to Voice of America News.

Later, security stopped a large truck at a government checkpoint, which the van was able to get through earlier. According to a security official at Mogadishu’s Joint Special Operations Command, “The driver was ordered to park the truck on the side of the road but the driver panicked, maneuvered and sped past the checkpoint.”

The truck, an old Italian construction vehicle, allegedly held a bomb that was estimated to weight at least 1,100 pounds, according to Voice of America News.

The same Somali security official went on to say, “A soldier chased the truck as it collided with a three-wheeled motorcycle and a minibus before detonating in the midst of the busy junction.”

The intersection that the bomb detonated at is usually busy, but this was an even busier time as school was getting out and people were making their way to mosques for afternoon prayers.

According to Ahmed Moallim Fiqi, the former director of the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency, the truck was coming from a farmland near the town Afgoye, Somalia, which is about 18 miles northwest of Mogadishu. While Afgoye is controlled by Somali government forces, a lot of the farmlands surrounding the town are controlled by al-Shabab, a terrorist group linked with Al Qaeda.

There are speculations that al-Shabab was responsible for these two bombs, but the group has not confirmed that. Not only did Fiqi say that the truck came from a farmland near Afgoye, but Somali intelligence officials also confirmed that the driver of the minivan is known to be an al-Shabab member.

Al-Shabab has carried out attacks in Somalia similar to these bombings in the recent past, but nothing as large-scale as Saturday’s attack. Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, the president of Somalia, has blamed the attack on al-Shabab, according to The Washington Post.

Since the start of this year, over 20 attacks have targeted Mogadishu. This attacks have killed over 500 people and injured more than 650, according to al-Jazeera.

Editor’s Note: Information from Al Jazeera, The Washington Post and Voice of America News was used in this report.