DAMASCUS, SYRIA (6:00 PM) – A double car bomb explosion has killed over 230 people in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, in what has turned out to be the most destructive terrorist attack ever in the history of the war-torn nation.
According to Associated Press (AP), the death toll has risen to at least 231 at this point, with many bodies burned beyond recognition by the blast. The first blast took place near the Safari Hotel, in the same area as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a busy quarter in the heart of the city, that is home to many offices, hotels and restaurants. A second blast took place some hours later in the Madina district of Mogadishu.
The terrorist attack took place just days after the head of the US Africa Command was in town to meet with Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.
While no group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far, the Salafist terrorist organisation Al-Shabaab is seen as the most likely culprit. Al-Shabaab has been at war with the government of Somalia since its foundation in 2006, and declared its membership of the global terrorost movement Al-Qaeda in 2012.
From 2006 to August 2011, Al-Shabaab was in control of the city of Mogadishu itself, before being driven out by a joint offensive by the Somali armed forces and an international coalition of African Union (AU) states.
Ever since being driven from the capital in 2011, the terrorist movement has continued to carry out regular terrorist attacks on Mogadishu and other targets in central and southern Somalia. The deadliest officially confirmed Al-Shabaab attack to date took place in 2011 when a truckload of explosives was detonated in a Mogadishu ministerial complex, killing at least 100 people. A record death toll that has now been broken.