Suspected al-Shebaab militants yesterday attacked Somalia’s intelligence headquarters and detention facility in central Mogadishu, setting off a car bomb and opening fire on the complex, police and witnesses said.
A large explosion was followed by a fierce exchange of gunfire. Police sources said the style of attack bore all the hallmarks of the extremist militia.
At least seven attackers were killed, police said.
The facility, which contains a high-security prison, is close the Villa Somalia, the complex that houses the office of Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
The Villa Somalia was hit by a similar attack in July, when a car bomb was detonated and al-Shebaab fighters stormed the complex before blowing themselves up.
The presidential palace was also attacked in a similar fashion in February, while the parliament complex was hit by a coordinated bomb and gun attack in May.
Al-Shebaab rebels have continued to target key areas of government or the security forces, in an apparent bid to discredit claims by the authorities — who are backed by the 22,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) force — that they are winning the war against the extremists.
The latest attack also comes a day after African Union forces claimed to have liberated a former al-Shebaab stronghold in Somalia as part of a joint offensive with government troops aimed at capturing key ports from the extremists and cutting off a key source of revenue for the rebels.