MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Hundreds of Somali soldiers erected new security checkpoints across the capital, a day after attacks by Islamic extremists killed at least nine civilians and wounded several others.
Government security forces patrolled the streets of Mogadishu Saturday following the attacks Friday night on a hotel and a nearby public garden.
Police said at least five militants from the group al-Shabab were also killed in the attacks on SYL Hotel and the Peace Garden, which each involved suicide car bombers.
The first blast, at the hotel, sent a loud booming sound across the city, shattering windows and ripping the roofs off many nearby buildings. The truck packed with 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of explosives bomb may have been the most powerful bomb used by al-Shabab in recent years, said Somali security minister Abdirizak Omar.
At the scene of the hotel blast Saturday, an elderly Somali woman raised her hands in grief, shouting “God have mercy on him” as she looked at the wreckage of her son’s car which was near the truck bomb.
Somali resident Barre Ali said the explosion at the hotel “felt like there was an earthquake.” In his bedroom, Ali pointed to cracks in the wall of his house, which is located 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the scene of the blast.
More than 20 of the wounded are being treated at local hospitals, said Mohamed Abbas, the director of Daru Shifa hospital. Inside one hospital on Saturday, some victims of the attacks lay bleeding on the ground, screaming in pain.
Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke condemned the bombings.
“Such acts were perpetrated to terrorize (the) public and wreck the stability and development of the country,” he said in the statement.
Despite being pushed out of Somalia’s major cities, al-Shabab continues to launch deadly guerrilla attacks across the Horn of Africa nation.
ABDI GULED, Associated Press
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