Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo has declared three days of national mourning starting on Sunday, following a deadly vehicle explosion that left scores of people dead in the capital, Mogadishu.
Local media quoting “security officials and emergency services” said at least 50 people were killed in Saturday’s blast, but officials put the death toll at 22.
“We will observe 3 days of mourning for innocent victims, flags will be flown at half-mast. Time to unite & pray together. Terror won’t win,” President Mohamed said in a statement posted on the presidency’s official Twitter account early on Sunday.
The blast, described by the city’s residents as the most powerful they had witnessed in Mogadishu in years, also left dozens injured and the president call on people to help those affected by the attack.
“I call on our citizens to come out, extend help, donate blood and comfort the bereaved. Let’s get through this together,” Mohamed said.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The explosion left a trail of destruction with nearby homes and businesses flattened and vehicles turned into burnt wrecks.
Emergency services were overstretched and worked late into the night as they tried to rescue people who were trapped in the destroyed buildings.
The city’s mayor called on residents to donate blood as hospitals were running out of blood.
“I call on the Somali people to visit the city’s hospitals and donate blood. Please, come to the rescue of your brothers,” Thabit Abdi Mohammed, told reporters after donating blood at a local hospital.
Saturday’s truck explosion comes 48 hours after horn of Africa country’s defence minister and army chief both resigned from their posts without explanation.