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Bomb blast in capital of Somalia

A huge bomb blast in Mogadishu yesterday killed at least 70 people and wounded more than 50.

The bomb was inside a truck and detonated when the vehicle was driven into the gate of a government ministry building in the centre of Somalia’s capital. First-aid workers were quick to reach the scene, but were unable to help many of those caught in the blast, who had been torn apart by the explosion or burnt beyond recognition. Women and children were among the dead, as were many students who had gone to the education ministry to find out their exam results. Some of the youngsters were hoping to learn if they had gained scholarships to study abroad.

The building at the centre of the blast houses 8 of the government’s ministries. The soldiers guarding the building were among the dead, but no government officials were killed. As is so often the case, ordinary civilians bore the brunt of the attack. Survivors of the blast were taken to Medina hospital, where doctors were caring for victims with horrendous injuries such as missing limbs, severe burns and loss of eyesight. Staff at the hospital worked around the clock to treat all the wounded and perform operations. One nurse at the hospital told the BBC’s correspondent in the city “it is the most awful tragedy I have ever seen”.

The bomb attack comes at a time of wide scale suffering in Somalia. Much of the country has been hit by drought, with six regions being declared as ‘famine’ zones by the United Nations. The attack will not only add to security worries for the Somali government, it will also concern aid agencies already taking risks to reach those in most need with food supplies.

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SOS Children in Somalia

SOS Children, which has been working in Somalia since the 1980s, has been operating an Emergency Relief Programme to help victims of the current drought. This is providing food and medical aid to thousands of Somalis who have sought assistance in the refugee camps of Mogadishu and also in the city of Baidoa. Word has been received that none of the children or SOS staff in Mogadishu have been harmed in the bomb attack. However, communications are proving difficult in the city with disruptions to internet and telephone connections.