MOGADISHU, Somalia – On Thursday, a car bomb exploded near a hotel and restaurant in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, killing at least 15 people and sending emergency services on strike in a bustling area targeted by militant Islamists the past was taken.
The blast sent a huge cloud of smoke into the sky, destroying two restaurants and cars parked in the area.
"So far, 15 people have died, including five women. Seventeen others were injured in the explosion, "said Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Amin Ambulance Service, Reuters. Another witness at the scene said she saw 18 bodies.
A police spokesman, Maj. Mohamed Hussein, told the Associated Press that the explosives were loaded and detonated in front of the restaurant.
"The explosion destroyed a restaurant and killed many inside and outside the restaurant," the same police officer told Reuters. "The number of dead could rise."
He said that dozens of others had been injured in the explosion and that most of the victims had been in the overcrowded restaurant's restaurant.
A resident of Mogadishu, Aamina Ali, said she went to the scene to help the victims and that she had seen many bodies and blood everywhere.
"That's unacceptable," she said. "We are mothers. We have lost beautiful souls.
The Shabab are fighting to overthrow the Western government protected by the African Union troops. The group was expelled from Mogadishu in 2011 and has since been expelled from most other strongholds.
On Saturday, Shabab gunmen stormed a government building in Mogadishu following a suicide bombing, and the ensuing shootings and bombings killed at least 15, according to Reuters, police said, including the country's deputy labor minister
. On Tuesday, a bomb exploded in a private luxury car in Mogadishu's Hodan district, killing the driver and injuring a nearby pedestrian. Colonel Ahmed Abdi, a police officer, told The AP
The US military has reported the number of deadly airstrikes on the militants since the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as president increased. A number of multinational forces, including the African Union forces, Somali troops and Kenyan soldiers, are fighting the Shabab.