Medical personnel carry a wounded person to be airlifted to the Turkish capital for treatment after they were injured in…
Medical personnel carry a wounded person on a stretcher to be airlifted to the Turkish capital for treatment after they were injured in Saturday's car bomb blast in Mogadishu, Somalia, Dec. 29, 2019.

Hassan Kafi Qoyste has contributed this report from Mogadishu.

At least 16 of the most severely wounded people from Saturday’s truck bomb attack that killed at least 90 people in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, have been airlifted to Turkey for treatment, Somali government officials said.

"Turkish military cargo airplane has taken 16 injured people to Ankara for treatment," Somalia’s Minister of Internal Security, Mohamed Abukar Islow Duale, told VOA.

Two Turkish nationals were among those killed in the truck bombing that also left 125 other people were wounded.

Before taking the wounded, the Turkish cargo plane off-loaded large supplies of medicine and medical equipment to help overwhelmed Mogadishu hospitals in order to handle the large number of the wounded.

Medical personnel carry wounded children to be airlifted to the Turkish capital for treatment after they were injured in Saturday's car bomb blast in Mogadishu, Dec. 29, 2019.

"Turkey has also sent doctors and medical supplies to Mogadishu to treat the large number of the wounded people in Mogadishu hospitals" said a statement from Somalia’s presidential office.

Saturday's explosion — one of the worst in the East African country's history — occurred at a busy checkpoint on a road leading to Afgoye District.

The checkpoint, known as Ex-Control checkpoint, is one of the main road tax collection government posts in Mogadishu.

At the time of the blast, nearly 100 vehicles and rickshaws carrying passengers were in line at the checkpoint for routine security inspections.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack  but analyst Abdihakim Aynte with the Mogadishu-based heritage research organization said it had all the hallmarks of the al-Shabab militant group.

A general view shows the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Dec. 28, 2019.

Mohamed Yusuf, the director of Medina hospital in Mogadishu told VOA Somali that they have been struggling with the treatment of at least 75 wounded people since Saturday.

More than 30 of the dead were school and university students who were traveling on public buses during morning rush hour.

Deeqo Osman, a student and one the survivors of the attack, who was being treated at the hospital has shared  her recounts about the blast with VOA.

"We were returning to our classes. We were traveling on a mini passenger bus, when we arrived at the checkpoint something huge exploded and the next thing I found out was being under burning rubble of our mini-bus. I could see a lot of dead students and the bodies of other civilians strewn across the check-point. I immediately became unconscious and the next thing, I saw myself in a hospital bed with injuries on legs, chest, and shoulders." said Osman.


Somalis across the world reacted Saturday's deadly attack.

"These deadly blasts continue to hurt us. I would say May Allah defeat those who think they achieve something by killing moms and innocent children," said Fadumo Abdullahi, a resident in Nairobi’s East Leigh Somali neighborhood.

"Such attacks only amplify the brutality of the terrorists and huge task that lies ahead, for Somalis with the help of the international community, to defeat terrorists and push back this wicked ideology," Ibrahim Nur, a Mogadishu traditional elder said.

Abdirahman Sharif, leader of the Dar-Al-Hijra mosque in Minneapolis, was among dozens of Somali influential clerics who have strongly condemned the attack. He links Wahhabism, a puritanical form of Sunni Islam, which is practiced in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to the deadly terrorist attacks in Somalia.

"Wahabism that spread to Somalia from Saudi Arabia has to be blamed for what is going on," said Sharif. "Together, Somali religious leaders, politicians, and people must fight against the extremist views being taught in schools and universities, because that is the only effective way to stop the killers."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has has also condemned the attack and expressed his nation’s sympathy for Somalis.

Deputy U.N. Representative in Somalia Adam Abdelmoula said the world body stands with the people of Somalia during such difficult moments.

Previous attacks

In October 2017, a truck bombing in a busy junction in Mogadishu killed more than 500 people, the worst and the deadliest single explosion so far. The Somali government blamed al-Shabab.

 In October 2011, a similar truck bomb in the city killed more than 100 people, mainly students taking exams for Turkish scholarships.
Al-Shabab was also linked to a 2009 attack in which a suicide bomber attacked a graduation ceremony at the Shamo Hotel,  killing 30 people including government ministers.