Blast in Somalia kills 20 in Mogadishu marketplace

A shopkeeper surveys the wreckage of shops destroyed by a blast in a market in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. A Somali police officer says a blast at a busy market in the western part of Somalia's capital tore through shops and food stands and killed more than a dozen people and wounded many others. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A car bomb blast at a marketplace Somalia’s capital has killed at least 20 people and injured 50 others, said a local Somali official.

The blast by a car bomb parked near a restaurant went off at a busy time when shoppers and traders were gathered inside the market, said district commissioner Ahmed Abdulle.

The powerful blast was the first major attack since Somalia’s new president was elected on Feb.8. Although no group has yet claimed responsibility, it bears all the hallmarks of Somalia’s Islamic extremists rebels, al-Shabab. In a Twitter post, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed condemned the blast, saying that it shows the “cruelty” of al-Shabab.

A few hours before the blast, al-Shabab denounced the new president as an “apostate” and vowed to continue fighting against his government

Mohamed Haji, a butcher who suffered shrapnel wounds, pointed at a clothes shop devastated by the blast. “Someone had parked the car here and left before it was detonated,” he said. Pieces of wood and metal sheets on the ground were all that remained of the shop.

Women sobbed and screamed outside the market as rescue workers were transported bloodied bodies and wounded victims into awaiting ambulance vehicles.

“It’s a painful carnage.” said Ali Mire, a government soldier who was helping a friend with multiple shrapnel wounds.

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