The Villa Somalia, also know as the Presidential Palace, was attacked Friday morning by armed terrorists who were defeated by the security forces defending the government’s headquarters. The head envoy to Somalia for the United Nations has reported that the president is safe and unharmed on a message via Twitter.
Nicholas Kay, the United Nations’ special representative in the area said that the attack failed, but there were deaths and that he condemns this act of violent terrorism. Kay received a personal phone call from the President, Hassan Sheik Mohamud confirming his health.
Those in the area reported that they heard a very loud explosion, which was then followed up with heavy exchanges of gunfire. There followed more explosions close to the Villa Somalia throughout the encounter. There were ambulances on the scene to collect wounded and dying security forces.
The attack started with a car bomb, according to police captain Mohammed Hussein. He added that after the first explosion, the militants tried to shoot their way into the nation’s capital. This address house’s the President and the speaker of their Parliament. It is also where their offices are located.
This attack is not the first one made on the life of President Mohammed. Back in September 2012, three suicide bombers attempted to blow-up a news conference where the President was speaking. Although Mr. Mohamud was not harmed, an African Union soldier did die in the incident.
The Shabab militant group has claimed responsibility for this attack. Their spokesman told the AFP that their “commandos have attacked the so-called presidential palace in order to kill or arrest those who are inside.”
Somalia continues to be an area filled with violent fighting and death. Last week, five were killed and more than a dozen more wounded as the international airport was attacked with a car that had been packed with explosives. The Shabab also claimed responsibility for this attack and it is believed that they were aiming it at a passing U.N. convoy.
Amisom, the African Union police force, said that this “cowardly attack” was foiled and that it was a “senseless attack, directed on innocent civilians as Friday prayers were underway in Mosques.” Amisom has been constantly working over the last few years to drive the Shabab out of their bases and squash their presence in the region.
The Shabab first rose to influence back in 2006 when an Ethiopian invasion, backed by the United States, was successful in seizing “large swathes of the country, including Mogadishu.” There have been increasingly large territorial gains for the Somalian military and the African Union against the Shabab, however, there has also not been any let up in the amount of terrorist attacks or terrorist behavior in the region. This latest explosion is only the latest attack in the region, which has seen an escalation of violence in the last year. The planned destruction of the Presidential Palace in Somalia,along with the planned arrest or execution of the leading officials of the country by the Shabab will certainly raise a red flag to world leaders watching this region.
By Nick Manai