By Nour Geidi and Mohammed Dhaysane
Turkey’s health minister arrived in
Ahmet Demircan flew in to oversee Turkish assistance accompanied by 33 Turkish staff, including a medical team specializing in emergency services, the Turkish Embassy said in a statement.
Saturday’s terror attack was the worst in the war-torn nation’s history, according to Abdisalam Yusuf Guled, the former deputy director of the National Intelligence and Security Agency.
The blast at a busy road junction, blamed on al-Shabaab, killed 276 people and wounded more than 300 others.
The minister’s arrival came as 40 severely wounded victims were airlifted to Turkey for medical treatment.
“The plane has now taken 40 injured and will return as to take other injured,” Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Ahmed told a news conference.
Foreign Minister Yusuf Garaad Omar wrote on Facebook that Turkey had been the first country to send aid.
Demircan was welcomed by Ahmed, Omar, Health Minister Fowsiya Abiikar Nur and other senior government officials.
Demircan said Turkey shared the sadness of Somalis and outlined a plan to treat some of the victims in Turkey.
“Based on instructions given by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, we are working to offer assistance by providing medical aid and transporting casualties to Turkey where they will receive the necessary care,” he told reporters.
Ahmed thanked the Turkish government for “its noble humanitarian position in helping Somalia in these critical circumstances.”
Earlier Monday, a Turkish aircraft loaded with medical aid and emergency services workers, including 13 workers from the Turkish Red Crescent and the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, landed in Mogadishu -- the latest aircraft carrying medical support from Turkey.
Confirming the casualty toll, Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman tweeted: “'The death toll rises to 276 as of now and around 300 injured as a result of yesterday's barbaric attack by terrorists’ group Al-Shabaab at KM5 junction in Mogadishu”.
Following visits to Medina Hospital and Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital -- a jointly run Turkish-Somali facility -- lawmaker Mahad Salad said 130 of the dead were unrecognizable.
“This is a national disaster,” he said.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed announced three days of mourning Saturday and the government called for blood donations.
In a message to Mohamed, Erdogan said: “I condemn this attack targeting security and stability in Somalia in the strongest terms.”
He reaffirmed Turkey’s support for Somalia in standing against terrorism. Last month, Turkey opened a training mission in the Horn of Africa nation, its largest military base outside Turkey.
Ali Erbas, the president of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, said: “We should work hard and take action to end these suicide attacks that deeply hurt our hearts.”
African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat also condemned the attack and expressed the union’s “heartfelt condolences” to the families of the victims and wished
*Felix Nkambeh Tih and Aynur Ekiz contributed to this report from Ankara.