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Death toll of Mogadishu car blasts rises to at least 120

Two car bombs that exploded outside the education ministry in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Saturday have claimed the lives of at least 120 according to the country’s health minister.

The first of the explosions hit the education ministry at around 2 p.m. The second bomb exploded minutes later as ambulances arrived and people gathered to help the victims.

Somalia’s health minister Ali Haji Aden said the death toll stood at 120 as of Monday afternoon, while a further 150 people were being treated in hospital.

The Saturday blast was the deadliest that Somalia has seen since a truck bomb killed more than 500 people at the same location five years ago.

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The al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group, al-Shabaab, claimed responsibility for the terror attack. The group seeks to topple the government and establish its own rule based on an extreme interpretation of Islamic law. Al-Shabaab frequently stages attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere. In late September, a suicide bomber from al-Shabaab claimed the life of one government soldier and injured six others. In late August, the group attacked a hotel in the capital and barricaded themselves inside, killing guests and staff and fighting with government security forces during a 30-hour-long siege.

The Islamist group has been under pressure since August when President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud began an offensive against them, supported by the United States and allied local militias, also seeking to dismantle al-Shabaab’s financial network.

As part of the offensive, the government forces successfully eliminated one of the group’s co-founders, Abdullahi Nadir, earlier in October. Analysts say the government offensive is the most serious threat posed to al-Shabaab in years.

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