At least 90 people were killed and dozens were wounded when a bomb-laden vehicle exploded at a bustling checkpoint in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday, an international organization working in the country said, in one of the most deadly recent attacks.
The dead included many students and two Turkish nationals, the Somali foreign minister said, Reuters reported.
Rescuers carried bodies past the twisted wreckage of a vehicle and a minibus taxi smeared with blood.
A report by the international organization, which did not want to be named, said the death toll was more than 90.
A Somali MP also tweeted that he had been told the death toll stands at more than 90, including 17 police officers.
No-one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.
Al Qaeda-linked terror group al Shabaab regularly carries out such attacks in an attempt to undermine the government, which is backed by the United Nations and African Union troops.
The most deadly attack blamed on the group was in October 2017 when a bomb-laden truck exploded next to a fuel tanker in Mogadishu, creating a storm of fire that killed nearly 600 people.
While al Shabaab carries out frequent attacks, the death tolls are often lower than in Saturday’s blast.
The group has sometimes not claimed responsibility for attacks that sparked a big public backlash, such as a 2009 suicide bombing of a graduation ceremony for medical students.
Three witnesses told Reuters that a small team of Turkish engineers were present at the time of the blast at the Ex-Control checkpoint, constructing a road from the checkpoint into the city.
A car belonging to the engineers was destroyed instantly in the blast, the witnesses said.
Somali Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad later tweeted that two of the Turkish engineers died in the blast.
Many of the dead were “students with ambition, and hardworking men and women”, he wrote.
Turkey’s foreign ministry confirmed the death of two of its nationals.
After the explosion, 55-year-old Sabdow Ali, who lives nearby, said he left his house and counted at least 13 people dead.
“Dozens of injured people were screaming for help but the police immediately opened fire and I rushed back to my house,” he told Reuters.
The injured were transported to Medina Hospital, where a Reuters witness saw dozens arriving by ambulance.
A nurse at the hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the facility had received more than 100 wounded people.