Somalia’s government fired the country’s police commissioner and head of national security after Islamist militants attacked the presidential compound in the capital yesterday.
Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab insurgents entered the compound in Mogadishu before Somali armed forces alongside African Union peacekeepers repulsed the attack, killing three of the assailants and injuring another, Information Minister Mustaf Ali Duhulow told reporters in the city. The fighters were armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, police officer Dahir Osman said by phone. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed were unharmed, according to the presidency.
“They cannot frighten me, they cannot frighten the parliament,” Mohamoud told reporters in Mogadishu.
Al-Shabaab, which is trying to oust the government and implement Shariah, or Islamic law, carried out the attack for the second time this year on the presidential palace, spokesman Sheikh Abdul Aziz Musab told pro-al-Shabaab Radio Andulus.
In February, the militant group stormed the compound where the president, prime minister and other senior political figures reside and the site of government offices.
Al-Shabaab has waged an insurgency against Somalia’s government since at least 2006, carrying out frequent attacks. On July 5, at least four people were killed and more than 10 others injured when a suspected al-Shabaab militant detonated a car bomb in front of Somalia’s parliament building in Mogadishu.
The U.S. condemned yesterday’s assault, which underscores the need for continuing support for the Somali National Security Forces and African Union Mission in Somalia, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said yesterday in a statement.
Abdihakim Said was removed as police commissioner and replaced by Mohamed Sheikh Ismail, Duhulow said, citing a presidential decree. Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan replaced Bashir Mohamed Jama as head of the national security agency, he said.
Khalif Ahmed Ereg, a former national security official, was named security minister, taking over from Defense Minister Mohamed Sheikh Hassan who had been in the position on an acting basis since May.