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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Somalis gather at Mogadishu bombing site to mourn victims

Many of the dead were burned beyond recognition and buried without being identified because they were

Somalis pray on October 20, 2017 at the site of a massive bomb blast in Mogadishu on October 14. Mohamed Abdiwahab / AFP
Somalis pray on October 20, 2017 at the site of a massive bomb blast in Mogadishu on October 14. Mohamed Abdiwahab / AFP

Thousands of Somalis prayed in Mogadishu on Friday at a symbolic funeral for more than 300 people killed by the country's deadliest bombing.

A lorry loaded with explosives detonated next to a fuel tanker on Saturday, creating a huge fireball that incinerated multi-storey buildings. Around half the dead were burned beyond recognition.

The government conducted mass burials soon after the blast, in keeping with the Muslim practice of interring the dead as quickly as possible.

Religious leader Abdi Hayi said mourners had decided to conduct a symbolic funeral six days on, as it had not been possible to give so many of the victims a proper send-off with prayers at a mosque.

"Since we have not seen many bodies we came to conduct the funeral at the spot of the blast," he said.

The bomb attack was the deadliest since the Al Qaeda-affiliated militant group Al Shabab began an insurgency in 2007. Al Shabab has not claimed responsibility, but it has increasingly used lorry bombs in its attacks.

Somalia has been mired in conflict since 1991, when clan warlords overthrew a dictator before turning on each other. One of the poorest countries in Africa, Somalia relies on foreign donors to support its institutions and basic services.

The battle-scarred capital is on edge after the bombing. A central road in the city emptied quickly after locals suspected a minivan loaded with vegetables was carrying a bomb. As police checked the van, shopkeepers and residents fled the scene.

"I closed my shop and ran away," said shopkeeper Abdullahi Omar. "We have much fear and still the shock ... persisting in our minds."

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Read more:

UAE to cover treatment cost for 100 Somalis injured in bombing

Somalis in shock after country's deadliest bomb attack

Al Shabab silence suggests miscalculation over Mogadishu bombing

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