Civilians carry the dead body
Civilians carry the dead body of a man killed in a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia December 28, 2019. Image Credit: REUTERS/Feisal Omar

MOGADISHU: Her ears still ringing from the deafening sound of an explosion near her home in the Somali capital on Saturday morning, 18-year-old Qali Ibrahim frantically dialed her husband’s mobile phone. Minutes earlier he had left home, hammer and saw in hand, headed out for a day of construction work.

“The number you are dialing is not reachable”, his mobile responded.

People rescue a wounded person following three blasts of suicide bomb car attacks in Mogadishu, on November 9, 2018. At least 10 people were killed in blasts that occurred near a popular hotel and the police headquarters in the Somali capital Mogadishu, police said. Image Credit: AFP

Hours of anguish would pass before she could confirm her worst nightmare, Ibrahim later recounted. From hospital to hospital, there was no word of Muktar Abukar, a 35-year-old homebuilder whom she married four months earlier.

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A victim of a car bomb attack in Mogadishu. The Bosaso attack is not a first in Somalia. Picture for illustrative purposes. Image Credit: AP

At Mogadishu’s biggest hospital, Medina, she and her sister-in-law were told to look among a row of dead bodies that had not yet been identified after a huge truck bomb blast.

Ibrahim said she pulled back the sheet on the first corpse she came to, finding a badly burned body she recognized as her husband’s from a deep scar on one of his fingers.

“We were together last night,” the new widow, three months pregnant, wept as she rocked back and forth, her head veiled by a red scarf and buried between her knees as her sister-in-law squeezed her shoulders. “The world is so painful.”

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A man walks past the wreckage of an official vehicle that was destroyed in a bomb attack in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia, Saturday, June 15, 2019. Image Credit: AP

At least 90 people died in the blast that killed Ibrahim’s husband on Saturday morning, an international organization said. A bomb-laden truck exploded at a busy checkpoint in the deadliest attack in Somalia in more than two years.

No-one immediately claimed responsibility but the city’s mayor blamed al Qaeda-linked Islamist group al Shabaab.

Saturday’s attack was the 20th vehicle-borne explosives attack of 2019 in Somalia and the year is ending with more deaths from such attacks than 2018, according to the Hiraal Institute, a Mogadishu-based security think-tank.