Militants detonated a truck bomb in the Somali capital of Mogadishu Tuesday, killing an estimated 70 people at the Ministry of Education. Many of the victims were students and parents. The truck had been stopped at a security checkpoint outside the compound when the explosives were detonated.
Al-Shabab, a militant group linked to al-Qaida, has claimed responsibility for the attack, which they said was carried out on the building because of the presence of government officials and foreigners.
The Associated Press describes the scene after the bombing:
Ali Abdullahi, a nurse at Medina hospital said they were treating people with horrific wounds, including amputated limbs, burns, and patients who became blinded.
“It is the most awful tragedy I have ever seen,” he said. “Imagine dozens are being brought here minute by minute. Most of the wounded people are unconscious and others have their faces blackened by smoke and heat.”
The BBC’s Mohammed Dhore visited the scene shortly after the explosion:
I arrived at the scene by foot about 30 minutes after the lorry exploded. It was shocking. At least 11 bodies burnt beyond recognition were lying on the ground. The main buildings and surrounding trees were on fire.
First-aid workers were carrying severely wounded people to ambulances. Two people with blood all over their legs were shouting for help.
Al-Shabab controls swaths of the country, which has been without a strong central government for years. The chaos and violence have compounded the misery of a drought and famine in the Horn of Africa that have pushed millions into hunger. (View a slideshow and update on the humanitarian situation in Mogadishu here.)
Al-Shabab, which has gained prominence in recent years, wants to establish Sharia law in Somalia — and already largely holds the southern and central parts of the country. Somalia’s central government, which is bolstered by the presence of limited African Union troops, still holds some parts of Mogadishu but the capital has largely deteriorated into chaos and violence after years of civil war.