Al-Shabaab Carryout Daring Attack in MogadishuJuly 9, 2014 in Somalia
Late on Tuesday, al-Shabaab militants continued their assault on the capital city by launching a major bomb attack and armed assault on Somalia’s presidential palace. The latest incident has resulted in the firing of Somalia’s intelligence and police chiefs as the militant group has successfully carried out a number of deadly attacks over the Ramadan period, with warnings that attacks will continue.
The raid began with a suicide bomber detonating a car at a barrier near the entrance to the compound, with militants later attacking the presidential palace from two directions. The attack continued for hours as the militants penetrated the heavily fortified complex and fought with security guards inside. On the ground sources have indicated that Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed were not at the presidential palace at the time of the attack and are both safe.
Local police officer Ali Hussein has confirmed the attack, stating “there was an attack on the presidential palace, with gunmen attacking a checkpoint at the rear of the compound,” adding “there was a major explosion and security forces are fighting them.” It took security officials several hours to control the situation, with sources indicating that at least nine attackers were killed in the incident.
An al-Shabaab spokesman has confirmed that the Al-Qaeda-linked group was behind the attack, claiming that their commandos had managed to seize the president’s office inside the presidential compound known as the Villa Somalia. He further indicated that fourteen government soldiers had been killed in the assault however these claims have not been confirmed by Somali government officials.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Information Minister Mustafa Dhuhulow confirmed that police and intelligence heads – Abdihakim Saaid and Bashir Gobe respectively – have been replaced with immediate effect, adding that three of the attackers have been arrested while a fourth has been killed.
The attack appears to be a repeat of an al-Shabaab assault against the presidential palace that occurred in February. In May the Islamist insurgents also launched a similar attack against the national parliament. At the start of the holy month of Ramadan, al-Shabaab’s spokesman promised that the groups fighters would step up their attacks, particularly throughout the capital city. The militant’s warnings appear to be coming true as al-Shabaab militants have carried out a number of attacks throughout Mogadishu, attacks which have further highlighted the capital’s security issues. Further attacks targeting the Somali government are expected over the coming weeks as al-Shabaab attempts to remove the Western-backed government.
Meanwhile, al-Shabaab has threatened to kill Christians at an exclusive beach resort in Kenya. In leaflets that have been distributed over the past several days, al-Shabaab has threatened to kill Christians staying at beach resorts in Lamu and has warned the Kenyan government against killing their “Muslim brothers”. Over the past several weeks, the Kenyan ooastal area has seen a number of attacks carried out by al-Shabaab militants. Last month, at least eighty-seven people were killed in the area after the militant group launched several attacks.