Somalia suicide car bomb attack rocks capital, killing dozens

At least 79 people are dead and 149 more injured after a massive car bomb exploded at a busy intersection on the outskirts of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, on Saturday, according to a government official.

Government spokesman Ismael Mukhtar also earlier told CNN that the attacker drove his vehicle into the “Ex-control Afgoye” checkpoint, a well-known junction that links the south of Somalia to the capital.

Mukhtar added that university students were among the dead.

The attack happened during rush hour in the Somali capital at about 8 a.m. local time, and civilians and soldiers are among the dead, police said.

Police conduct security searches at the checkpoint, but there is also a taxation office located nearby and the area is heavily populated with civilians and security forces.

Police have warned that the death toll could rise as many of the wounded have been rushed to hospitals.

Images from the scene showed multiple wrecked vehicles with shards of twisted metal nearby as well as a minibus marked with blood.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu confirmed two Turkish citizens had died in the attack.

“May Allah’s mercy be upon our 2 citizens and innocent Somali brothers&sisters who lost their lives in the heinous terrorist attack,” Çavuşoğlu wrote on his Twitter account. He added Turkey would continue to stand with Somalia in the fight against terror.

Saturday’s attack came two weeks after at least five people were killed in a seven-hour battle at a hotel popular with lawmakers and security officials in the Somali capital.

In February, the group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a car bombing at a crowded shopping mall that left at least 10 dead. It was also behind three car bombings last November that killed at least 52 people with about 100 more injured.

Journalist Omar Nor reported from Mogadishu. CNN’s Sara Mazloumsaki, Sharif Paget and Raja Razek contributed to this report from Atlanta while Lauren Said-Moorhouse wrote from London.

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