The death toll from twin bombing attacks in Somalia’s capital rose to 189 on Sunday as emergency crews pulled more bodies from burned cars and demolished buildings after the Saturday blasts.
Officials called the truck explosions one of the deadliest attacks to hit the capital, Mogadishu, since an Islamist insurgency began in 2007.
The explosions left at least 200 others wounded, and families scrambled to find missing relatives amid the rubble and in hospitals. The toll was expected to rise.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo declared three days of national mourning and called for donations of blood and funds to help the victims.
Today’s horrific attack proves our enemy would stop nothing to cause our people pain and suffering. Let’s unite against terror,” Mr. Farmaajo said on Twitter. He added that flags would be flown at half-staff: “Time to unite and pray together. Terror won’t win.”
“I call on our citizens to come out, extend help, donate blood and comfort the bereaved,” said the president, who himself donated blood on Sunday.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosions.
Photos published by the local news media showed scenes of carnage and devastation, with bodies, and bloodied slippers and shoes scattered in the aftermath. Windows of nearby buildings were shattered. Overturned cars burned in the streets.
Some of the victims had died in their cars and in public transport vehicles. Some news reports put the death toll as high as 218, but that could not be independently confirmed.
“There was a traffic jam, and the road was packed with bystanders and cars,” Abdinur Abdulle, a waiter at a nearby restaurant, said on Saturday. “It’s a disaster.”
The United States Mission to Somalia condemned the bombings, calling them “cowardly attacks” that “reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism.”
The British ambassador to Somalia, David Concar, said on Twitter that the blast had been clearly audible from inside the British Embassy.
He also wrote: “Such cruel, cowardly acts. My condolences to the families and friends of the killed and injured, and to all Somalis. A time for unity and resolve.”
Erdogan Hospital, one of six hospitals that received wounded victims, said at least 127 people had been hospitalized there.
Senator Abshir Ahmed, the deputy speaker of the upper house of the Federal Parliament, wrote on his Facebook page that he had been told by Dr. Mohamed Yusuf, the director of Madina Hospital, that 218 bodies had been taken to the hospital. At least 130 were burned beyond recognition, Mr. Ahmed wrote.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre appointed a 16-member committee, including ministers, civil society leaders and religious leaders, to arrange national funerals for the victims and to provide assistance to the wounded, according to his office.
The blast occurred two days after the head of the United States Africa Command was in Mogadishu to meet with Somalia’s president, and after the country’s defense minister and army chief resigned for undisclosed reasons.
The American military has stepped up drone strikes this year against the Shabab, a group aligned with Al Qaeda that has recently stepped up attacks on army bases across the southern and central parts of the country.