MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A large explosion outside a school in Somalia’s capital on Thursday killed at least eight people, including students, witnesses said. This attack was claimed by the extremist group al-Shabab.
Large parts of Somalia are ruled by an al-Qaida-linked organization, which continues to block efforts to rebuild the Horn of Africa nation.
The explosion sent smoke from the blast above Mogadishu’s busy morning traffic. Part of the school was destroyed by the blast. Emergency personnel looked at the collapsed roof beams, and saw wooden benches.
“We were extremely terrified by the blast,” said teacher Mohamed Osman, who said he was explaining a lesson to students when the explosion occurred. “We were disorientated and we were covered with dust and smoke.”
Abdifatah Adam Hassan (police spokesperson) stated that 17 people were also hurt and eight had died.
“This is a tragedy,” said Abdulkadir Adan of the Amin ambulance service, which rushed people to a hospital.
Since Thursday falls on a weekend in Somalia (an overwhelmingly Muslim country), the casualties are much smaller than they might be.
Al-Shabab, in a statement released by Andalus radio, stated that it was targeting Western officials who were being taken by peacekeeping troops of the African Union. Hassan Ali, a witness told the AP that the official were being escorted by a private security firm and that he witnessed four of them wounded.
Somalia’s political and security future are in serious doubt due to the attack. The AU peacekeeping forces were supposed to be withdrawn from Somalia. However, there are concerns that the mission of these troops could be extended due to concern about Somali forces’ inability to secure their country. Early this year, the U.S. announced that it had completed its troop withdrawal form Somalia.
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