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Blasts in Somalia kill 231

Somalis search for survivors by destroyed buildings at the scene of a blast in Mogadishu, Somalia. Source: AP

No group has claimed responsibility so far for the attacks, the most deadly in the African nation's history.

Somalian president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has declared three days of national mourning after a pair of deadly bomb blasts in the capital Mogadishu.

At least 231 people are dead, and more than 250 others are injured.

No group has claimed responsibility so far for the attacks, the most deadly in the African nation's history.

First, a truck bomb ripped through the heart of Mogadishu's K5 Junction, an area lined with government offices, hotels and restaurants.

Two hours later, another blast struck the capital's Medina district.

Witnesses say the first blast, which threw up a thick cloud of smoke that could be seen across the city, left scenes of devastation along the busy road.

"I've never seen a scene like this ever before. All the buildings around here have collapsed. There were close to 200 people in these buildings. I hope everyone is okay."

The United Nations and the African Union have both pledged their support to the Somali government as police continue to pull bodies from the rubble.

Local security sources say medical facilities are struggling to cope with the high influx of patients.

The director of the Medina hospital, Dr Mohamed Yusuf, says the scenes are unprecedented, even in the violence that has hit Somalia previously.

"What we have seen is very unusual. The hospital is overwhelmed by both dead and wounded. We also received people whose limbs were cut away by the bomb. This is really horrendous, unlike any other time in the past."

Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has joined pleas from hospitals for people to donate blood for the victims.

He says the country has to work as one to stop such attacks from happening again.

"The target of these terrorists is not government officials but civilians, as you see here. There are no government buildings, only civilians who were going about their daily life. We have to come together and fight these monsters until we eradicate them from our country."

No-one has claimed responsibility for the blasts, although analysts say it has the hallmarks of a typical attack by the militant group al-Shabab. Al-Shabab, with links to al-Qaida, often targets high-profile areas in Mogadishu with bombings.

Its fighters attacked a military base outside Mogadishu with car bombs and gunfire last month, (sept) killing eight soldiers.

The United Nations' deputy envoy to Somalia, Michael Keating, has told Al-Jazeera, despite what happened, security is improving in the areas affected by the blasts.

"Great efforts have been made by the government to particularly secure Mogadishu city, but, also, other areas in the country. But, nevertheless, when one is desperate enough to get through, these kinds of things do happen, and we've seen it again in Somalia, unfortunately."

Over 2,000 Mogadishu residents have since taken to the streets to protest the attacks, chanting as they marched.

The weekend blasts occurred two days after Somalia's defence minister and army chief resigned for undisclosed reasons.

Somalia is already in the midst of a severe drought as well, and more than 3 million people are threatened by famine because of the food shortages and the violence.

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