At least 10 people were killed and more than 11 wounded as al-Shabaab militants struck Somalia’s parliament buildings in an attack lasting more than three hours.
An explosive-laden car was detonated to break into the heavily guarded compound in Mogadishu, Amin Jesow, a lawmaker, said in an interview at the scene today. The militants then used automatic rifles and machine guns in the ensuing battle, which claimed the lives of security forces and civilians. Mohamed Adam, an ambulance worker, said he collected 10 bodies.
“What happened today is something we never expected,” Jesow said. “It was a scary moment.”
The African Union has more than 22,000 security personnel in Somalia trying to rein in al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda-linked militant group that seeks to topple the war-torn country’s government and impose Shariah law. While the group has been pushed out of most key towns in the southern and central parts of the Horn of Africa nation, it still organizes attacks on Somali government officials, mostly in the capital.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the bombing, spokesman Abdulaziz abu Musab said on Radio Andulus.
The “cowardly, despicable actions are not a demonstration of the true Islamic faith,” Somalia Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed said in an e-mailed statement.
U.S. officials condemned the attack.
“We continue to stand firmly with the federal government of Somalia and the many international partners working to support its efforts to root out the threat posed by al-Shabaab,” said Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman. “Cowardly acts such as these will not shake our resolve.”