MOGADISHU, Somalia—The death toll from a truck bomb in Somalia’s capital has risen to 53, security and medical sources said Sunday.
More than 60 others were injured, authorities said, as hospitals struggled to cope with the high number of casualties.
Some residents of the city called it the most powerful blast they had heard there in years.
Police Capt. Mohamed Hussein said many victims died at hospitals from their wounds. The explosion appeared to target a hotel on a busy road in Hodan district, he said, adding that security forces had been trailing the truck after it raised suspicions.
People were trapped in the rubble of the Safari Hotel, which was largely destroyed in the explosion, police said. The hotel is close to Somalia’s foreign ministry. Rescue workers were at the scene.
No one claimed responsibility for the bombing. The Islamic militant group al-Shabaab recently stepped up attacks on army bases across south and central Somalia and has in the past targeted high-profile areas of Mogadishu with bombings.
The explosion left a trail of destruction across a busy intersection, with several bodies and bloodied slippers and shoes on the ground. Windows of nearby buildings were shattered. Overturned cars lay in the street, burning. A large plume of smoke rose nearby.
“There was a traffic jam and the road was packed with bystanders and cars,” said Abdinur Abdulle, a waiter at a nearby restaurant. “It’s a disaster,” he said.
Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed joined thousands of people who responded to a desperate plea by hospitals to donate blood for the wounded victims.