MOGADISHU - Somalia's national security minister has resigned in the wake of a brazen attack by Shebab militants on the country's parliament, officials said Sunday.
The resignation came hours after the Al-Qaeda-linked militants set off powerful car bombs outside the gates of the parliament and a group of fighters armed with explosive vests, grenades and machine guns stormed in while scores of MPs were meeting.
Abdikarim Hussein Guled had already come in for mounting criticism over a spate of high profile Shebab attacks inside Mogadishu in recent months, including against heavily-guarded sites including the presidential palace and airport.
"You are aware of the cowardly attack that the violent elements carried out on the parliament. I extend my condolences to the families of the deceased. Considering the current situation of the country, I officially hereby announce my resignation," Guled told reporters late Saturday.
No official death toll was given after the attack but police said eight attackers were killed, and AFP reporters at the scene also counted four dead security guards.
Four MPs were also wounded in the attack, hospital officials said.
African Union troops (who include Ugandan troops) arrive in an armoured vehicle during an attack on the Somali parliament in Mogadishu, on Saturday. PHOTO/AFP
A Somali army soldier runs for cover during an attack on the Somali parliament in Mogadishu. PHOTO/AFP
The Shebab were pushed out of fixed positions in Mogadishu, the capital and seat of the country's internationally-backed government, by African Union troops but have continued to strike inside the city.
Recent Shebab attacks have targeted key areas of government, or the security forces, in an apparent bid to discredit claims by the authorities that they are winning the war against the Islamist fighters.
The Shebab claimed responsibility for the assault, describing the parliament as a "military zone" and saying it was a "holy operation".
AU troops launched a fresh offensive in March against Shebab bases, and although they seized a series of towns, the insurgents are thought to have fled in advance and suffered few casualties.
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Somalia security chief quits after attack