(Updates with Red Cross comment in sixth paragraph.)
Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- A suspected suicide bomber attacked a government building in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, killing at least 65 people, officials said.
The explosion occurred at a two-storey structure in the central KM4 district that houses the foreign affairs and national development ministries, National Development Minister Jeylani Nur Ikar said in a phone interview today from inside the building. The attack may have been carried out by al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda-linked rebel group, Xinhua reported, citing a pro- al-Shabaab website that it said described the blast as a “martyrdom operation.”
“We have collected 65 corpses and 60 wounded people including students and pedestrians,” Ali Muse Sheikh, head of the Mogadishu ambulance service, said in a phone interview. “We are still in the process of helping the casualties” and the death toll may rise, he said.
Al-Shabaab, which has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda, withdrew its forces from Mogadishu on Aug. 6 in what it described as a “tactical” step. The militant group has waged a four-year campaign to remove President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s Western-backed administration. It controls most of southern and central Somalia.
At the scene of the incident, an exploded container truck was parked outside the front gate of the building, which is opposite the Criminal Investigation Department. The building is situated on one the busiest roads in Mogadishu that links the international airport to the presidential palace.
More than 90 people, including 9 children, were admitted to Mogadishu’s Medina Hospital, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in an e-mailed statement. The ICRC has supported the hospital since 2000, it said.
“Many suffered burns and fractures,” the ICRC said.
--Editors: Paul Richardson, Gordon Bell
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