Mogadishu, Somalia — A delegation of Somalia's Federal Government ministers and security officials were ambushed by Al Shabaab fighters on Monday as they were returning to Mogadishu from a visit to the city of Marka, Garowe Online reports.
The delegation led by Minister of Interior Abdikarim Hussein Guled included Minister of Defense Abdikarim Mohamud Haji Fiqi, Minister of Justice Abdullahi Abyan Nuur and Chief of Police Gen. Sharif Sheikhuna Maye visited the city of Marka which had been liberated by Somali and African Union mandates troops late August of this year.
The convoy was attacked after they left the city of Marka on Monday and were heading to Mogadishu. They were ambushed near Shalanbood by Al Shabaab fighters who according to officials attempted to blow up the police chief's vehicle.
"One of the cars that was carrying Chief Maye was hit with a explosive and the Al Shabaab fighters began exchanging fire with the armed security," said Governor of Lower Shabelle region Abdiqadir Mohamed Siidi who spoke to Somali media after the incident.
According to the governor the clashes lasted for "minutes", and at least 4 police officers were injured in the skirmish. The governor alleges that many Al Shabaab fighters were killed.
Some reports indicate there were government forces' casualties, although independent sources cannot verify the total casualties in Monday's attack. However no government officials were killed.
Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attacks on the delegation of officials on Monday claiming to have killed many Somali police officers and AMISOM forces.
The attack on the delegation comes after the officials visited Marka the capital of the Lower Shebelle region in which they assessed security developments since the capture of city from Al Shabaab.
This is the second attack in 2 weeks in the Lower Shabelle region by Al Shabaab on government delegations visiting the region. The Federal Government of Somalia downplayed the attack on its government officials on Monday.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon have both stressed the top priority for their government is improving security in the country.
On November 24th, Al Shabaab fighters attacked a delegation - accompanied by AMISOM forces - of members of parliament and regional officials reportedly killing at least 3 armed guards.
Marka before being captured by Somali and AMISOM forces had been an Al Shabaab stronghold for 4 years and according to security analysts had quietly become a residence for the families of many top Al Shabaab commanders and leaders.