Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed is expected to announce a “state of war” against al-Shabab, the extremist group held responsible for last week’s deadly truck bombing that killed at least 358 people, an official said on Friday.
The U.S. is anticipated to back the move, according to an unnamed military official. This comes after the U.S. carried out a drone strike on Monday against the terror group.
Somalia military personnel will work to push al-Shabab fighters out of strongholds in the Lower Shabelle and Middle Shabelle regions, according to Capt. Abdullahi Iman, Somalia’s army spokesman.
The announcement comes after thousands gathered at the attack site on Friday to pray. At least 56 people are still missing and more than 200 wounded.
A huge explosion from a truck bomb went off in a crowded street in capital city of Mogadishu last weekend. Some residents said it was the most powerful blast they’d heard in years.
As the death toll continued to rise, local hospitals in the area became overwhelmed with victims. More than 70 critically injured people were airlifted to Turkey, leaving behind anxious relatives who prayed for their recovery.
The country's president declared three days of mourning and joined the thousands of people who answered the call from hospitals for much needed blood donations.
"This is really horrendous, unlike any other time in the past," said Dr. Mohamed Yusuf, the director of Medina hospital.
The Somalian government described the attack as a "national disaster" and laid blame on al-Shabab.
"They don't care about the lives of Somali people, mothers, fathers and children," Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire said. "They have targeted the most populated area in Mogadishu, killing only civilians."
The U.S. condemned the bombing, calling it a “cowardly attack.” The United Nations special envoy to Somalia said the attack was “revolting.”