Somalia praises Turkey for response to deadly bombing
Somalia has praised Turkey for its response to the deadliest bombing in the country's history as officials and civilians question why more international states have not offered to help.
Twin explosions in Mogadishu on Saturday killed at least 300 people and injured more than 400.
There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, but al-Shabaab, a militant group aligned with al-Qaeda, carries out regular suicide bombings in Mogadishu in its bid to overthrow Somalia's internationally-backed government.
Within 48 hours of the huge twin explosions, a Turkish air ambulance had landed in the battle-scarred capital and picked up dozens of wounded Somalis to transport them to Turkey for free medical treatment.
Its health minister also pitched up with surgeons who set to work at once in hospitals alongside Somali doctors and nurses.
"Whenever there is a problem, Turkey helps us. Where are the other countries?" runs a popular cartoon circulating on Somali social media.
"Turkey is the best friend to Somalia and they were the first supporter to us after the blast," said Abdiasis Ahmed, a jobless university graduate who said four friends had been airlifted out, one with a broken back.
Many Somalis contrasted Ankara's response with that of the European Union, which has a naval force including combat ships equipped with emergency medical systems off Mogadishu's shore to deter piracy, but which did not take in casualties.
"I've heard a lot of complaints from Somalis saying 'There's a huge Western navy on our shores - why can't those people come to help us?'," said Rashid Abdi, a Nairobi-based Somalia analyst at International Crisis Group, according to Reuters.
A spokesman from the naval force said the force had diverted its nearest vessel, a Spanish ship, which delivered equipment and medical supplies once it reached the Somali coastline. He said the maritime area the force covers is "vast" but the ship arrived Mogadishu "as quickly as possible."
A tweet from the naval force earlier on Wednesday said it was providing "vital medical aid" for the victims.
"Turkey is always first to help us. They are our only genuine brother," Somalia's Information minister Abdirahman Omar Osman told Reuters, recalling a personal visit by Erdogan in 2011, when Somalia was in the grip of famine.
"Their support is visible to everyone. They build hospitals, they build schools, and that's why they are different than others," he said. "Others might give more money but Turkey is perceived by the people to be the ones really helping Somalia."
Mogadishu mayor Thabit Mohamed tweeted on Monday that he was grateful for Turkey's "immediate response" and "relief for victims", compared with a "Thanks for standing with #Mogadishu" tweet 24 hours later aimed at the US Embassy.
Allies from the US, Qatar, Turkey and Kenya have sent planeloads of medical supplies as well as doctors, with all except the US also evacuating some of the wounded.
Turkey has invested heavily in Somalia over the past five years and last month inaugurated a new overseas military base in the country.