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Truck Bomb In Somalia's Capital Kills And Injures Hundreds Of People


A truck bombing in Somalia's capital killed more than 300 people over the weekend. It's one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the country's history. NPR's Eyder Peralta has this report.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Footage posted on social media shows heartbreaking devastation, crushed buildings, charred cars, bodies strewn on roads and sidewalks and what looks like an entire city block in flames as residents try to pick up the pieces. The attack bears the hallmarks of al-Shabab, the al-Qaida-linked Islamist group that started an insurgency in 2007. But al-Shabab has not claimed responsibility for the attack. The government, however, is blaming them. The country's information minister, Abdirahman Yarisow, says the attack is a reaction to the country's renewed offensive against al-Shabab. They feel cornered, he says, and they are looking to inflict as much carnage as possible.

ABDIRAHMAN YARISOW: To really show to the world and to al-Qaida that they're still relevant in Somalia.

PERALTA: Mohamed Haji Ingiriis, who studies Somalia at Oxford, happened to be in Mogadishu during the blast. He's lived through more than seven bombings, and this one felt like it was right next to him, but it was actually miles away.

MOHAMED HAJI INGIRIIS: You can guess the hugeness of the explosion.

PERALTA: After President Mohamed Farmaajo took office earlier this year, Ingiriis says there was great hope in Somalia, and Somalis in the diaspora moved back, hoping things would change.

INGIRIIS: This makes people disappointed.

PERALTA: It calls into question the effectiveness of the government's offensive against al-Shabab and their ability to keep the capital secure. But Ingiriis says an attack of this scale could also discourage Somalis from supporting al-Shabab or the many other groups who profit from Somalia's instability. He says he attended a prayer service where people cursed al-Shabab. And yesterday, hundreds of people took to the streets in protest of the bloodshed. Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Nairobi.

(SOUNDBITE OF TINARIWEN'S "ITTUS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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