In Somalia’s capital city of Mogadishu, two massive truck bombs exploded in quick succession Saturday night, killing at least 300 people and wounding more than 300 others. It was the deadliest attack in Somalia since the rise of the al-Shabab militant group a decade ago, and one of the worst bombings by a non-state actor in recent years. In the worst of the two bombings, a truck packed with hundreds of pounds of explosives detonated near the Safari Hotel, collapsing the building and igniting a nearby fuel tanker. The resulting fireball set cars on fire and flattened nearby businesses and homes, trapping people under rubble. On Sunday, hundreds of Somalis poured into the streets of Mogadishu to condemn the attacks. This is Rahma Abdi Ali, one of the protesters.
Rahma Abdi Ali: “It was a massacre that happened yesterday, and I never saw such a thing in the last 27 years. I witnessed a little boy’s head laying on the ground, and his mother and other children with their heads also cut in the explosion. People buried people’s body parts separately, because they collected them separately. It was a very shocking event.”
Somalia’s president declared three days of national mourning after the attacks. There’s been no claim of responsibility, but Somalia’s government was quick to blame al-Shabab militants, who have been behind past bombings in Mogadishu. The explosions came after the Trump administration stepped up a U.S. campaign against al-Shabab in Somalia. In March, President Trump declared Somalia a so-called zone of active hostilities, giving wide latitude to military leaders to launch airstrikes and ground assaults. In May, that led to the first U.S. combat death in Somalia since 1993, when Navy SEAL officer Kyle Milliken was killed in an assault on an al-Shabab radio station. In August, a raid by U.S. soldiers and Somali troops on a village outside Mogadishu left 10 civilians dead, including three children.