Top Somali officials amongst dozens of dead after well devised attack on Presidential Palace
Mogadishu (Harar24) – A bomb blast erupted at the presidential palace which was followed by an attack carried out at the same spot by Al-Shabaab fighters in yet another violent day in Mogadishu.
The heavily fortified presidential palace known as “Villa Somalia” came under attack around 12pm, when a car filled with explosives was detonated at the back entrance of the compound, the car was followed by another vehicle loaded with Al-Shabaab fighters who according to eyewitnesses numbered around seven or eight, were clad in the attires of the presidential palace guards and stormed the compound which resulted in a fierce gun battle between the militants and the guards who were backed by AMISOM forces.
According to several sources the Al-Shabaab fighters fought their way into the compound until they reached the residence of Gen. Dahir Aden Indha Qarshe located also within the compound, where another heavy battle ensued, however Gen. Indha Qarshe escaped the attack and remained unharmed. Sources further added that the gunmen penetrated the palace as far as reaching the main prayer hall where the president usually attends the Friday prayers, however due to unknown reasons the president was nowhere to be found within the vicinity of the prayer hall. The president however managed to call Nicholas Kay to assure everyone he’s fine and unharmed from an unknown location within the palace.
There’s still much doubt surrounding the exact number of the dead and injured as a result of the attack, however hospital sources have confirmed that more than twenty people were killed including government officials, soldiers and the attackers. Amongst those who were confirmed as dead were Mohamud “Indha ‘Asse” the chief of staff in the PM’s office and former deputy intelligence chief Gen. Mohamed Nur Shirbow who at the time was serving as a high ranking officer within the Somali intelligence. Unverified reports also mentioned that several Djiboutian diplomats died in the attacks, however according to a spokesperson for the AMISOM, Col. Hamudof Djibouti, the diplomats were only injured.
The attacks was claimed instantly by the Al-Qaeda affiliated movement Al-Shabaab, who told AFP that their “commandos attacked and stormed the palace in order to capture and kill those present”. Some analysts further suggested that Al-Shabaab had also intended to kill the president whom they expected to attend the prayer hall on Friday.
Despite constant assurances from members of the security sector and the government that Mogadishu is safe and secure, today’s attack contradict and challenge claims, all the while residents are slowly losing faith in what they are being told of safety and security. Ali Hashi Omar, a Mogadishu resident who spoke to Harar24 claimed that he and his family live in constant fear during the day and night. “I find it hard to come to terms with what I’m being told regarding the city being safe and the constant nightmare me and my family have to live. I fear for my family during the day and night”.
This comes amidst the highly anticipated offensive to be undertaken by AMISOM and Somali forces against Al-Shabaab. Despite the fact that many believe the operation has been put on a temporary halt due to several reasons, many analysts foresee that all major cities will turn in to replicas of “Mogadishu” if Al-Shabaab were to be routed from all territories they control.