President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud says twin car bomb blasts at a famous intersection in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, killed at least 100 people.
The AFP news agency quotes the president as adding that moms holding their infants in their arms were among the victims who were “massacred.”
He pleaded for outside medical assistance to treat the 300 wounded.
The president attributed Saturday’s assault on the education ministry to the extremist organization al-Shabab.
According to the pro-jihadist Somali Memo website, the organization claimed responsibility for the explosions.
Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda offshoot, has been at war with the federal government of Somalia for a long time.
After Islamist terrorists stormed a well-known hotel in Mogadishu in August, killing at least 21 people, President Mohamud, who had been in office for five months, vowed “total war” against them.
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The explosions on Saturday occurred minutes apart and destroyed nearby buildings and automobiles.
The first one struck the ministry of education, and the second went off as medical workers were arriving to deal with the aftermath, according to the Reuters news agency.
Nearly five years earlier, a truck detonated at the same intersection, killing more than 500 people and becoming the worst such assault in the nation’s history.
Following the incident on Saturday, hundreds of people have congregated nearby to search for missing relatives.
A well-known journalist and a senior police officer were among that slain.
God willing, I’m here to assure the Somali people that assaults like the one in October won’t occur again, said President Mohamud after visiting the incident site.
Even though government troops had crushed the militants on the battlefield, he said, “the blasts were a message delivered by the insurgents to demonstrate that they are still alive.”
Attacks “underline the urgency and crucial relevance of the current military effort to further weaken al-Shabab,” according to the African Union (AU) mission in Somalia.
Germany, Qatar, the United States, and Turkey denounced the assault.
For over 15 years, Al-Shabab has been at war with the federal government of Somalia, which the AU supports.
The organization has been able to expand its influence into regions under the jurisdiction of the Mogadishu-based government while still maintaining control over a large portion of southern and central Somalia.