Somalia checkpoint truck bomb kills at least 90 people

Jimmy Nsubuga

At least 90 people have been killed after a truck bomb exploded at a busy security checkpoint in Somalia’s capital.

The blast targeted a tax collection centre during the Saturday morning rush-hour in Mogadishu as Somalians returned to work after the weekend, police said.

Government spokesman Ismail Mukhtar said the death toll is likely to increase further as more than 50 people injured in the incident, some seriously, are being treated in hospital.

Mayor Omar Mohamud Mohamed, speaking at the scene, said university students were among those killed.

Two Turkish nationals were also killed.

A Somali man stands at the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia  December 28, 2019. REUTERS/Feisal Omar     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A Somali man stands at the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu (Picture: Reuters)
A Somali woman reacts at the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia  December 28, 2019. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
A Somali woman reacts at the scene of a car bomb explosion (Picture: Reuters)
A truck carries wreckage of a car used in a car bomb in Mogadishu, Somalia, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. A truck bomb exploded at a busy security checkpoint in Somalia's capital Saturday morning, authorities said. It was one of the deadliest attacks in Mogadishu in recent memory. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsame)
A truck carries wreckage of a car used in a car bomb in Mogadishu (Picture: AP)
28 December 2019, Somalia, Mogadishu: The wreckage of a bus stands on the road at a checkpoint after a car bomb attack. (Best possible picture quality) At least 18 people were killed in a car bomb attack in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Saturday, according to police. Photo: Abdirahman Mohamed/dpa (Photo by Abdirahman Mohamed/picture alliance via Getty Images)
The wreckage of a bus stands on the road at a checkpoint after a car bomb attack (Picture: Getty)

Photos from the scene showed the mangled frames of vehicles, with a large black plume of smoke rising into the sky above.

No group has yet said it was behind the blast.

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Al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab often carries out such attacks.

The extremist group was pushed out of Mogadishu several years ago but continues to target high-profile areas such as checkpoints and hotels in the city.

Al-Shabab was blamed for a devastating truck bombing in Mogadishu in October 2017 that killed more than 500 people, though the group never claimed responsibility for the blast.

A Somali police officer walks past a wreckage at the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia  December 28, 2019. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
A Somali police officer walks past a wreckage at the scene of a car bomb (Picture: Reuters)
SENSITIVE MATERIAL. THIS IMAGE MAY OFFEND OR DISTURB  Civilians carry the dead body of a man killed in a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia  December 28, 2019. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Civilians carry the dead body of a man killed in a car bomb (Picture: Reuters)
TOPSHOT - Somali soldiers secure the scene at a car bombing attack site in Mogadishu, on December 28, 2019. - A massive car bomb exploded in a busy area of Mogadishu on December 28, 2019, leaving at least 76 people dead, many of them university students. (Photo by Abdirazak Hussein FARAH / AFP) (Photo by ABDIRAZAK HUSSEIN FARAH/AFP via Getty Images)
Somali soldiers secure the scene at a car bombing attack site in Mogadishu (Picture: Getty)

The latest attack again raises concern about the readiness of Somali forces to take over responsibility for the Horn of Africa country’s security in the coming months from an African Union force.

Al-Shabab, the target of a growing number of US airstrikes since President Donald Trump took office, controls parts of Somalia’s southern and central regions. It funds itself with a “taxation” system that experts describe as extortion of businesses and travellers that brings in millions of dollars a year.