Shebab militants carried out a major attack Sunday against a military intelligence base in the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu, detonating a car bomb before attempting to run inside the place, security officials said.
Somalia’s interior ministry said the three members of the group were all taken out in the surprise attack, and that the forces who fought to stop them did not suffer any casualties. “There was an attack against a base belonging to the security forces. The violent elements used a car bomb to get inside the compound. There was a heavy exchange of gunfire,” said Adan Mohamed, a Somali security official.
Witnesses that watched the action unfold near the base, which belongs to the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), reported a loud explosion and heavy gunfire. “There was a heavy explosion and in seconds heavy gunfire broke out. We cannot go outside the house because of the shooting,” said Abdulahi Yare, a resident who lives near the intelligence base.
In a short statement, the agency said the attack did not go the way the attackers wanted and that it had failed. “The attack was successfully thwarted by our forces. None of our buildings nor bases were entered,” it said.
Somali officials showed the bodies of the three attackers after the raid, which came at the start of Islam’s holy fasting month of Ramadan, a period which is sometimes used by these groups to carry out deadly attacks on bases and authorities. “The security forces have foiled an attempted attack by the desperate terrorists,” interior ministry spokesman Mohamed Yusuf told reporters.
“One of them detonated himself and two others were shot dead. They were
trying to storm the premises but they have been taken out before they reached their objective. There was no casualty on our side,” he added.
The Shebab, which means “youth’’ in Arabic, was founded to combat Ethiopia, whose troops entered Somalia nine years ago in an invasion supported by the U.S to get rid of the Islamic Courts Union that had taken control of the capital. Three years ago, it pledged allegiance to the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda. The terrorist group has around 7,000 to 9,000 militants but have lost the control of many cities the last few years and now sit at a small number of rural areas.
Attacks In Other Countries
Since then, Shebab militants have continued to carry out many attacks, trying to prove that the group is not close to defeat due to the losses against the African Union and the Somali forces.
The group has also tried to get revenge on nearby countries. Two years ago, they carried out a deadly attack on the Westgate shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, which left at least 67 dead. Months later, they massacred 150 students in Garissa.
Somalia has been hit affected by violence since the collapse of Siad Barre’s regime in the early 90s. The current government is being supported by a 22,000-strong AU force that includes troops from places like Djibouti, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Ethiopia.
Four days ago, three Somali government soldiers were killed and three others wounded when a roadside bomb went off in Mogadishu. Officials blamed the attack on the group but it has not been confirmed.