World
Somalia sacks security chiefs after latest attacks
Publish Date: Jul 10, 2014
Somalia sacks security chiefs after latest attacks
Somalia president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud survived the attack on the presidential palace on Tuesday. AFP Photo
  • mail
  • img
newvision

SOMALIA'S president sacked his security chiefs Wednesday after Islamist Shebab fighters struck the heart of government in an escalating campaign of attacks in the capital and across east Africa.

Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab commandos stormed the presidential palace late Tuesday for the second time this year, demonstrating again their ability to infiltrate Mogadishu and hit the most fortified centres of the country's internationally-backed government.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was not in the complex at the time of the attack, delivered a defiant message close to the charred wreckage of the car bomb that gunmen used in their attempt to storm the compound.

"I am here to stay, with Allah's will... I say to them, you will not kill us, and nor will you demolish our spirit," Mohamud said, also thanking the 22,000-strong African Union force who helped battle the attackers and guard top officials.

Despite dismissing the Shebab attack as a "failure", several top security officials whose job it is to protect the capital were fired.

"Both the police and intelligence chiefs were replaced, and the minister for the national security was named," Information Minister Mustafa Duhulow said.

Khalif Ahmed Ereg, a former intelligence chief, was named as Somalia's new national security minister.

The post had been empty since his predecessor resigned in April following a suicide attack against the national parliament while MPs were in a meeting, killing several guards and staff.

Mohamed Abdulahi Hassan was appointed as the new intelligence chief, and Mohamed Sheik Hassan as police chief.

Recent Shebab attacks have targeted key areas of Somalia's government or the security forces, seemingly as part of a bid to discredit claims the authorities are winning the war against the Islamists.

While the 22,000-strong African Union force launched a fresh offensive in March against Shebab bases, seizing a series of towns, the insurgents have largely fled in advance and suffered few casualties.

'Well trained, well financed'

Despite territorial losses, the International Crisis Group warned that the Shebab fighters continue to have "deep reservoirs of fiscal and ideological support", saying in a recent report the "long connection between Al-Shebab's current leadership and Al-Qaeda is likely to strengthen".

As Shebab-held towns shrink in number, the extremists are shifting towards using "radicalised and well-trained individuals" to carry out "assassinations and terrorist attacks in urban areas, including increasingly in neighbouring countries, especially Kenya," the ICG said.

A Shebab spokesman confirmed that the group was behind Tuesday's attack, and claimed their commandos had at one point managed to seize the president's office inside the compound known as Villa Somalia.

However, the government dismissed their claims, saying the attackers -- who were dressed in government army uniforms -- had been killed near the entrance of the compound.

"Of the four attackers, three were killed in the car park and one was captured," Duhulow said.

Bomb disposal experts detonated several explosive devices, "including a suicide vest that one attacker was wearing that had failed to detonate," he added.

Tuesday's attack appeared to be a repeat of a Shebab assault against the presidential palace in February, when the Islamists, again wearing Somali army uniforms, managed to penetrate the complex with a car bomb before being killed.

The Shebab commander in Mogadishu, Sheikh Ali Mohamed Hussein, vowed last month that the capital would become the "frontline" for assaults.

The Shebab have also increased their scope of operations since last September, when they launched an attack on Nairobi's Westgate mall in which at least 67 people were killed.

In May the Shebab carried out a restaurant bombing in Djibouti, while Uganda and Ethiopia -- countries which also contribute to the AU force in Somalia -- have been on high alert.

Kenya has also seen a wave of massacres carried out by Islamists near the coastal resort island of Lamu, for which the Shebab has claimed responsibility, as well as a string of bombings in Mombasa and Nairobi.

AFP

Related stories

'UPDF instructors trained Al-Shabaab fighters'

Somalia declares new war on al-Shabaab

Al Shabaab claims attack on Kenya army convoy

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Mexico governor steps down over student disappearances
The governor of the Mexican state where 43 students vanished a month ago following a confrontation with police allegedly linked to a major drug cartel has bowed to pressure to stand down....
A doctor who recently returned to New York from treating Ebola patients in Guinea tested positive on Thursday for the deadly virus, the first confirmed case in the city, officials said....
Missing Mexico journalist found shot dead
THE editor of an investigative magazine in violence-wracked northwestern Mexico who disappeared two weeks ago was found dead with gunshot wounds...
Bashir calls opponents for talks
SUDAN'S President Omar al-Bashir has urged opponents to join him in 'national dialogue' talks, days after it was announced he would be seeking re-election...
Mexico says mayor, wife were behind student-teacher disappearances
A Mexican mayor and his wife were "probable masterminds" behind the disappearance of 43 student-teachers last month in the restive southwest, the country's attorney general said on Wednesday....
Canada PM vows crackdown after capital shocked by fatal attacks
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed to redouble the country's fight against "terrorist organizations" abroad after a reported convert to Islam rampaged through parliament, shocking the usually tranquil capital city....
Should diplomatic passports issued to ex-govt workers be with drawn?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter