A bomb hidden in a doctor’s car exploded in a hospital parking lot in the Somali capital Wednesday, killing the doctor and a nurse in a rare attack targeting health facilities in the war-torn country, a nurse at the scene said.
The explosion happened at Keysaney Hospital, a facility run by the Somali Red Crescent Society and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The explosion sent shockwaves through the hospital, and one female patient waiting for an operation was wounded by bomb blast shrapnel, said nurse Mohamed Omar, who provided the death toll.
“It’s a shocking attack and a terrible loss,” Omar said of the deaths.
The remotely detonated bomb exploded as the doctor was leaving the hospital after a night shift.
The 65-bed surgical referral hospital opened in 1992 and has treated the causalities of Somalia’s 20-year war.
Frightened nurses and doctors stood frozen as patients, some with serious wounds, began crying after the attack. Some patients removed acupuncture needles from their bodies and tried to flee, actions that doctors said aggravated their wounds.
“It was a hair-raising moment. I thought armed bombers entered the hospital to kill us,” said Ahmed Haji, who was lying on a hospital bed with bandages wrapped around a broken leg.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. The al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab has been responsible for a lot of bloodshed in Somalia but it rarely attacks health facilities. The hospital was hit by mortar fire in 2012, with no causalities reported.
“It’s sad. Even hospitals are not immune from attacks,” whispered Halimo Haji, a relative of a patient at the hospital.
Keysaney treated nearly 2,000 patients with war wounds at the height of violence in the capital in 2011, according to the ICRC. Almost 30,000 patients with weapons-related injuries, including many women and children, have received treatment at the hospital.