At least five people were killed and 23 were injured in a vehicle explosion near a school in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Thursday, according to security authorities.
Among those hurt were several students. The device exploded early in the morning during rush hour, causing a column of smoke to rise from the explosion site amid gunshots.
Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack. According to the military spokesman for the Al-Qaeda-linked organisation, the objective of the attack was a passing United Nations convoy.
The explosion in the capital’s core was so powerful that the walls of the adjoining Mucassar elementary and secondary schools crumbled, and automobiles were damaged.
“We were shaken by the blast pressure, then deafened by the gunfire that followed,” said Mohamed Hussein, a nurse at the neighbouring Osman Hospital, speaking to the Reuters news agency.
“Our hospital walls collapsed. Opposite us is a school that also collapsed. I do not know how many died.”
The director of Mogadishu’s Aamin ambulance service, Abdikadir Abdirahman, shared photos of the rubble-strewn scene on Twitter, calling the bombing “a tragedy”.
Al-Shabaab has been fighting against the country’s unstable government since 2007. The organisation ruled the city until 2011 when it was driven out by African Union soldiers, but it retains territory in the countryside and conducts periodic assaults on government and civilian targets in Mogadishu and elsewhere.