Somalia’s deadliest ever attack, a truck bomb in Mogadishu, has now killed 358 people and injured 228, the government said late on Friday.
A truck packed with explosives blew up in Hodan on Saturday last week, destroying about 20 buildings in the bustling commercial district, leaving scores of victims burned beyond recognition.
Several experts told reporters that the truck was probably carrying at least 500kg of explosives.
“The latest number of casualties 642 (358 dead, 228 injured, 56 missing). 122 injured ppl flown to Turkey, Sudan & Kenya,” Somalian Minister of Information Abdirahman Osman said on Twitter.
The figures mark a sharp increase in the toll, which earlier this week was put at 276 dead and 300 wounded.
The attack has overwhelmed Somalia’s fragile healthcare system, and allies from the US, Qatar, Turkey and Kenya have sent planeloads of medical supplies as well as doctors, with all except the US also evacuating some of the wounded.
Death tolls are notoriously difficult to establish in Mogadishu, with families often quickly taking victims away to be buried.
There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, but al-Shabaab, a militant group aligned with al-Qaeda, carries out regular suicide bombings in Mogadishu in its bid to overthrow Somalia’s internationally backed government.
More than 100 unidentified people who were burned beyond recognition have already been buried.
While the rapid burial is partly due to Muslim culture, the Somali government also has no proper morgue nor the capability to carry out forensic tests to identify the victims.
Somalian President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Wednesday vowed to step up the war against al-Shabaab, saying that the attack showed “that we have not done enough to stop Shabaab.”
“If we don’t respond to this now, the time will surely come when pieces of flesh from all of us are being picked up off the ground,” he said.
However, it was unclear what he plans to do to stop the militants from carrying out such attacks.
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