9 July 2014

Somalia: Govt Replaces Police and Intelligence Chiefs Following Al-Shabab Palace Attack

Somalia's government has fired the police and intelligence chiefs one day after Islamic al-Shabab militants attacked the presidential palace. It was the second time the compound came under attack this year.

On Wednesday, Information Minister Mustafa Dhuhulow told reporters that police commander Abdihakim Saaid and intelligence chief Bashir Gobe have been replaced.

Their dismissal comes one day after government troops and African Union peacekeepers repelled an attack by Islamist militants on the president palace in the capital, Mogadishu.

Dhuhulow said three of the four militants were shot dead by soldiers after they forced their way onto the compound, known as Villa Somalia, late Tuesday. The fourth militant was wounded and is in custody.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was not in the palace during the attack, but his prime minister, the parliamentary speaker and other senior officials were. None were injured, Dhuhulow said, adding that the government would implement sweeping new security measures.

The Islamic extremist organization al-Shabab claimed responsibility. The group, which was driven out of its bases in the capital in 2011 by AU forces, has vowed to step up attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The assault was the second this year on the heavily guarded presidential compound. In February, al-Shabab militants dressed as Somali soldiers managed to enter the compound with a car bomb before being killed.

Somalia's Western-backed government has promised to steer the country on a path toward democracy despite regular attacks by Islamic militants.

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