AMISOM in search and rescue mission after Somalia’s worst attack.

AMISOM in search and rescue mission after Somalia’s worst attack.” As a massive cleanup operation gets underway in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu following the deadliest attack since an Islamist insurgency began in 2007, troops from African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) say there are still victims trapped under the rubble. The officers are also assessing the sight of Saturday’s blast to establish the extent of damage and injuries.

STORY: Security officers of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) visited on Sunday (October 15) the scene of Saturday’s bomb blast to assess the damage and identify areas of support ahead of a massive cleanup operation.

More than 300 people were killed by twin bomb blasts that struck busy junctions in the heart of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, officials said, marking the deadliest attacks since an Islamist insurgency began in 2007.

Police said a truck bomb exploded outside a hotel in the K5 intersection that is lined with government offices, restaurants and kiosks, flattening several buildings and setting dozens of vehicles on fire.

Led by the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) Contingent Commander, Brig. Muhanga Kayanja, the AMISOM team was briefed on the ongoing search and rescue operations, following the attack.

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo declared three days of national mourning and called for donations of blood and funds to victims of Saturday’s attack.

“As you can see from the destruction around, many people have died but we have not established the number. We have been informed that some people are still trapped in the rubble and they have been calling but their phone batteries have died, however, all efforts are in place to make sure that we get the survivors from the rubble. We have just visited this place to assess the situation and see how we can help,” Brig. Kayanja said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although the Islamist militant group al Shabaab, which is allied to al Qaeda, stages regular attacks in the capital and other parts of the country.

The group is waging an insurgency against the U.N.-backed government and its African Union allies in a bid to topple the weak administration and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam.

The militants were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 and have been steadily losing territory since then to the combined forces of African Union peacekeepers and Somali security forces.

“This is an act of cowardice by the terrorists, Al-Shabaab, and it is intended to coerce the civilian population into fearing and supporting them, but it is an act of cowardice and we shall defeat all this,” Brig. Kayanja said.

Despite the presence of AMISOM troops, analysts say that al Shabaab retains the ability to mount large, complex bomb attacks.

Over the past three years, the number of civilians killed by insurgent bombings has steadily climbed as al Shabaab increases the size of its bombs.

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Mareeg senior news editor since 2001 and he can be reached at news@mareeg.com