Truck bomb kills scores in Mogadishu

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The United Nations has strongly condemned what it has described as a "horrendous" auto bomb attack in the Somali capital, Mogadishu on Saturday that left at least 78 people dead, including many students.

Saturday's attack is now the most deadlines since October 2017, when two truck bombs detonated by terrorists left more than 500 people in a market in Mogadishu dead.

Several Somali police officers manning the check point and two Turkish brothers working for a road construction company are among the dead.

Police said the blast targeted a tax collection centre during the Saturday morning rush-hour in Mogadishu as Somalians returned to work after the weekend. No-one immediately claimed responsibility, although the city's mayor blamed al Qaeda-linked Islamist group al Shabaab.

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While the attack has not been claimed, experts said the vehicle bombing bore all the hallmarks of past attacks by al Shabaab militants allied to al Qaeda.

The attack happened during rush hour in the Somali capital at about 8 a.m. local time, and both civilians and soldiers are among the dead, police say. He said it was the deadliest attack so far this year.

Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.

A Reuters witness at Mogadishu airport saw 10 injured Somalis and the bodies of two dead Turks loaded on the plane.

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Numerous dead were "students with ambition, and hardworking men and women", he wrote.

At least 16 of those killed were students from a local university, who had been travelling on a bus when the auto bomb detonated at a busy intersection southwest of the Somali capital.

The armed group was pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011 but continues to target high-profile areas such as checkpoints and hotels in the seaside city as well as in neighbouring Kenya. The group had previously relied on military-grade explosives captured during assaults on an African Union peacekeeping force.

Medical personnel carry a civilian who was wounded in suicide vehicle bomb attack at checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia, Saturday, Dec, 28, 2019. Some analysts said Al Shabaab didn't dare claim credit as its strategy of trying to sway public opinion by exposing government weakness had badly backfired. "I have never seen such an explosion in my entire life", said witness Abdurrahman Yusuf.

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"We are calling on the Somali public both, inside and outside the country to take part in assisting the victims, and to stand together in the fight against Al-Shabaab", the prime minister told Radio Mogadishu.

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