MOGADISHU, Somalia - The U.N. says the death toll has gone over 100 after a suicide car bombing that targeted a government compound in Somalia's war-ravaged capital.
The U.N.'s office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs said in a report released Thursday that the blast is a stark reminder of the prevailing insecurity in Somalia amid a debilitating famine.
A truck loaded with drums of fuel exploded Tuesday at the gate of compound housing several government ministries on a busy Mogadishu street. It was the deadliest single bombing carried out by the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group in Somalia since their insurgency began.
The group promised more attacks, saying they will be "back-to-back" and will "increase day by day." Most of the group's fighters left the capital in August after an offensive by African Union forces.
"Our Mujahideen fighters have entered a place where ministers and AMISOM foreigners stay," al-Shabab said in a brief post on a website immediately after the attack, referring to the Ugandan and Burundian forces who make up the African Union peacekeeping mission.
Two years ago, al-Shabab was blamed for a devastating attack on a graduation ceremony that killed 24 people, including three government ministers, medical students and doctors.
The deadly new attack comes as Somalia struggles to rebound from its worst famine in 60 years, a crisis that has brought even more misery to this country that descended into anarchy and war in 1991.
Al-Shabab fighters have compounded the suffering by preventing aid agencies from helping famine victims in areas under militant control in southern Somalia. The U.S. says 29,000 children have died since the famine began, and the U.N. says 750,000 more are at risk of starving to death in the next several months.
Witnesses say the insurgents even killed men who tried to flee famine areas with their families, saying it was better for them to die than accept help from the West.