The most powerful bomb blast ever witnessed in Somalia's capital killed 276 people, with around 300 others injured, the country's information minister said early Monday, making it the deadliest single attack in the nation's history. In a tweet, Abdirahman Osman called the attack "barbaric" and said countries including Turkey and Kenya had already offered to send medical aid. Hospitals were overwhelmed a day after a truck bomb targeted a crowded street near key government ministries, including foreign affairs, the AP reports. As angry protesters gathered near the scene of the attack, Somalia's government blamed the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab extremist group for what it called a "national disaster." Al-Shabab earlier this year vowed to step up attacks after both the Trump administration and Somalia's recently elected president announced new military efforts against them.
After the blast, doctors at Mogadishu hospitals struggled to assist badly wounded victims, many burned beyond recognition. At Medina hospital, bleary-eyed nurses transported a man whose legs had been blown off. He waited as surgeons attended to another badly injured patient. Exhausted doctors struggled to keep their eyes open, while screams from victims and newly bereaved families echoed through the halls. "Nearly all of the wounded victims have serious wounds," said nurse Samir Abdi. "Unspeakable horrors." "There's nothing I can say. We have lost everything," wept Zainab Sharif, a mother of four who lost her husband. She sat outside a hospital where he was pronounced dead after hours of efforts by doctors to save him.