MOGADISHU, Somalia - Two explosions ripped through a mosque in the Somali capital's biggest market yesterday, killing at least 30 people and wounding scores, according to officials, medical personnel and witnesses.

The bombings in Mogadishu, minutes apart, were reminiscent of al-Qaida-style assaults on religious sites in the Middle East and South Asia in recent years. They highlight the growing influence in Somalia of foreign jihadists, Somali officials and analysts say.

"It is the first time in Somalia that such a brutal act has happened inside a mosque," Information Minister Dahir Mohamud Gelle said. "It's a carbon copy of what's happening in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan."

The attacks occurred in the Abdala Shideya mosque in the Bakaro market, a stronghold of Islamist militia al-Shabab, seeking to overthrow a U.S.-backed transitional government and create an Islamic caliphate in the chaotic East African state.

Worshipers were preparing for midday prayers when the first explosion occurred. As people rushed to help, the second bomb detonated, according to witnesses and Somali officials.

"The explosions were like earthquakes," said Ahmed Mohammed, 35, who works in the market. "There were so many bodies inside the mosque."

No group has asserted responsibility. The mosque is known as a gathering place for al-Shabab, which the United States has labeled a terrorist organization.

Since the fall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991, Somalia has been plagued by lawlessness. U.S. officials have long been concerned it could become a launching pad for jihadist violence.

The Washington Post

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