MOGADISHU, (Reuters) – A truck bomb killed at least 65 people at government buildings in the heart of Somalia’s capital on Tuesday, an ambulance worker said, and al Shabaab insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack.
Witnesses said there was a loud blast at a compound housing four government ministries in the K4 (Kilometer 4) area of the capital Mogadishu, where students had gathered on Tuesday to take exams.
“We have carried 65 dead bodies and 50 injured people,” ambulance coordinator Ali Muse told Reuters. “Some are still lying there. Most of the people have burns.”
A Reuters reporter said he had seen nine bodies at the compound, which is in an area of the capital under the control of government forces and African Union peacekeeping troops.
He said scores of people with burns were walking to a nearby hospital and police were trying to evacuate more students trapped inside the damaged buildings.
Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels had threatened to carry out attacks on government installations after pulling most of their fighters out of Mogadishu in early August.
“Al Shabaab carried out that attack,” a spokesman for the insurgents told Reuters. “Our target was the ministries.”
Police said a truck had exploded at the gate.
A second Reuters reporter nearby saw a government pick-up truck leaving the scene with two bodies covered in the back and another five people with bloodied faces. He said police were shooting into the air to disperse crowds.
Muse said it looked as though the truck had been packed with petrol and explosives. He said students, soldiers and civilians were among the dead.