Sunday May 25 2014

Gunfire as al-Shabaab attack Somalia parliament

Somali security forces remove the body of a dead soldier

Somali security forces remove the body of a dead soldier in Mogadishu yesterday after an al-Shabaab attack on the national parliament. Police said at least four attackers were killed. Photo by AFP 

By Agencies

Mogadishu- Explosions and gunfire have been heard in the Somali capital Mogadishu as the parliament came under attack while MPs were meeting.

Eyewitnesses said several people had been killed in what police said was an attack by al-Shabaab militants.

Somalia’s first parliament of its own since the collapse of government in 1992 was sworn in two years ago.

The fragile Somali government has been waging a war on Islamist insurgents from the al-Shabaab movement.

It is not clear whether gunmen managed to get inside the building yesterday.

Armed group al-Shabaab claims responsibility for assault that has killed at least four people in Mogadishu.

“The so-called Somali parliament is a military zone. Our fighters are there to carry out a holy operation. We shall issue a comprehensive report after the conclusion of the operation,” Abdulaziz Abu Musab, al-Shabaab’s military spokesman, told AFP news agency.

Al-Shabaab, which has links to al-Qaeda, has been pushed out most of the towns it once controlled, including Mogadishu and the port of Kismayo.
However, it still dominates in many rural areas.

Some 22,000 African Union troops are helping the UN-backed government battle al-Shabaab.

The parliament in Mogadishu - which operated as a transitional assembly from 2004 to 2012 - has been attacked several times, including in 2009 and 2010.

Last month, a Somali parliamentarian was blown up and another shot dead in separate attacks.

In February, al-Shabab militants attacked the presidential palace in Mogadishu, leaving at least 16 people dead.