Somalia: At least 100 dead and 300 injured as two car bombs rock Mogadishu

At least 100 people have been killed and around 300 injured after two explosions rocked the Somalian capital Mogadishu on Saturday.

The resulting cloud of smoke was a testament to the power of the blasts.

A police spokesman said two car bombs exploded at a busy road junction in the city leaving "scores of civilian casualties".

The attack has overwhelmed first responders in Somalia, which has one of the world's weakest health systems after decades of conflict. At hospitals and elsewhere, frantic relatives peeked under plastic sheeting and into body bags, looking for loved ones.

“We ask our international partners and Muslims around the world to send their medical doctors here since we can't send all the victims outside the country for treatment," said President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, visiting the site of the explosions.

The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group, which often targets the capital and controls large parts of the country, claimed responsibility, saying it targeted the education ministry which it called an “enemy base” that receives support from non-Muslim countries.

The group said it is committed to fighting until the country is ruled by Islamic law

Somali media said It happened on a day when the president, prime minister and other senior officials were meeting to discuss combating violent extremism.

An Associated Press journalist at the scene said he saw “many” bodies and that they appeared to be civilians travelling on public transport.

He also said the second blast occurred in front of a busy restaurant.

Adam Hassan was there when the first blast happened. "I witnessed the first explosion then I fled the area. I was in shock because of the first blast. Another explosion rocked the same area. There are deaths and injuries, but I don’t know the exact number of the casualties," he said.

Ahmed Abukar was also there. "I was at the attack area when the first explosion went off, after that, I ran away, I saw many dead people, but I don’t have the death and injuries toll, May Allah have mercy on the dead people and help the injured to recuperate."

The director of the Aamin ambulance service told the AP they had collected many wounded or killed. One of the ambulances responding to the attack was destroyed by the second blast, Abdulkadir Adan added in a tweet.

The Somali Journalists Syndicate said one journalist was killed and two others wounded.

The attack occurred at Zobe junction, which was the scene of a huge al-Shabab truck bombing in 2017 that killed more than 500 people.

Al-Shabab often targets high-profile locations. Saturday's blast occurred near the education ministry, which the extremists stormed in 2015, and the foreign ministry.