A Somali police officer walks past a wreckage at the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia, on December 28, 2019. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
MOGADISHU (Reuters) – A Turkish military cargo plane landed in the Somali capital on Sunday to evacuate people badly wounded in a devastating truck bombing in the city a day earlier that killed at least 90 people, including two Turkish nationals.
The plane also brought emergency medical staff and supplies, according to a tweet from the Turkish embassy, adding these had been transferred to a Turkish-run hospital in Mogadishu.
Somali Information Minister Mohamed Abdi Hayir Mareye told state media that 10 badly injured Somalis would be evacuated to Turkey. He added that Turkey had sent 24 doctors to treat those wounded who would not be evacuated.
Since a 2011 famine in Somalia, Turkey has been a leading aid provider to the country as Ankara seeks to boost its influence in the strategic Horn of Africa in competition with Gulf rivals like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Saturday’s blast, at a busy checkpoint during rush hour in Mogadishu, was the deadliest in war-torn Somalia in more than two years. No-one immediately claimed responsibility, although the city’s mayor blamed al Qaeda-linked Islamist group al Shabaab.
The dead included many students from a university in the city, authorities said.
A Reuters witness at Mogadishu airport saw 10 injured Somalis and the bodies of two dead Turks loaded on the plane.
The bombing was the 20th vehicle-borne explosives attack of 2019 in Somalia and the year is ending with more deaths from such attacks than 2018, according to the Hiraal Institute, a Mogadishu-based security-think tank.
Grieving families on Sunday arranged burials and funerals for their loved ones, having endured the anguish of identifying charred corpses and body fragments at the blast site and at hospitals around the city.
Reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar, Additional reporting by Ece Toksabay in Ankara, Writing by Maggie Fick, Editing by William Maclean