Above: March 18, 2013. A Somali woman reacts near the site of a car bomb in central Mogadishu. (Mohamed Abdiwahab—AFP/Getty Images)
This week, the tenth anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq was met with a wave of violence throughout the Middle East and Africa.
In the Somali capital Mogadishu, which until February had been experiencing an 18-month period of peace and economic development, al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that took the lives of upwards of 10 civilians, injured Somali intelligence chief Khalif Ahmed Ilig and left an entire neighborhood devastated.
At the time of the bombing, AFP photographer Mohamed Abdiwahab was sitting at a tea shop, sharing tips with colleagues not far from where the blast took place.
The explosion rocked the neighborhood, shattering windows. As smoke filled the air, shrapnel rained down around Abdiwahab. Overcoming his initial shock and finding himself uninjured, he ran toward the scene of the blast, camera in hand. Somali security forces were firing rounds to keep the crowds away in the midst of the post-explosion chaos.
“I came across this lady by the scene coming out of the smoke and the fire, holding her head and fleeing while looking back, so shocked and crying,” he told TIME. That’s when he started photographing the scene, capturing the photo above, which appeared in this week’s issue of TIME and on the front page of the New York Times.
“The picture looks so emotional and it was really talking — it was telling the whole incident there in one shot,” Abdiwahab says. “I was looking back [through] my camera when I left… I was still shaking.”
It was not the first time that Abdiwahab had photographed explosions or seen people dying, “but this one really was completely different,” he admits. “It’s very hard when you go into an environment like Mogadishu, where you don’t know what to expect — where anything can happen.”
See more of the week’s best photos at LightBox.