Two explosions inside of a crowded mosque in Mogadishu, Somalia have killed at least 30 people and wounded up to 70 others. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
The bombings took place in the Abdala Shideye Mosque, located in the bustling Bakara Market in the Somali capital, as people gathered for their noon prayers on Saturday. In addition to the dead, it is being reported that dozens of other people have been injured by the blasts.
According to witnesses, a high-ranking member of al-Shabab, an Islamist insurgent group with ties to al-Qaida, was the target of the attack. Fuad Mohamed Qalaf, also known as Fuad Shongole, was reportedly inside the mosque as the bombs went off.
The Bakara Market is a stronghold for Somalia's insurgent militias. The area is controlled by al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam, another Islamist group loosely affiliated with al-Shabab, and Qalaf regularly uses the Abdala Shideye Mosque to deliver messages from insurgent militia to the Somali people.
The director of Mogadishu's ambulance service, Ali Muse, called the explosion in the mosque unprecedented. Muse said that the number of casualties is sure to increase as the full extent of the damage is revealed.
The attack highlights the increasingly violent reality of life in Somalia. It was a major attack inside a house of worship in the country and the majority of the victims were civilians.
Bombings have become increasingly frequent in Mogadishu and last week, a landmine caused casualties outside of another mosque in the Bakara Market.
Somalia has not had a functioning government for the past 20 years. The United Nations backed Transitional Federal Government has struggled to impose order, but it controls only parts of the capital. Al-Shabab has been fighting the government since 2007 to impose Islamic law and controls over vast swaths of Somalia.