MOGADISHU – The death toll climbed to 45 from a double car bomb and gun attack on Somalia’s presidential palace and the security headquarters in the capital Mogadishu, according to official sources on Saturday.
The figure was confirmed by Security Minister Mohamed Abukar Islow, who also stated that 33 others were injured in Friday’s attack, which was claimed by al-Shabaab, a militant group believed to be linked to al-Qaeda and the Nigerian terror organization Boko Haram.
Islow confirmed that an attempt by al-Shabaab militants to infiltrate the presidential palace had been foiled by security forces, some of who were killed in the attack.
The minister promised that the government would double its efforts to reduce the presence of al-Shabaab in the country.
A Somali intelligence official, Ali Shariif, said the attack on the presidential palace, known as Villa Somalia, began when a car packed with explosives was detonated at the main gate, while a second vehicle carrying al-Shabaab militants tried to enter the compound.
At the same time, another explosion took place nearby at the entrance to the National Intelligence and Security Agency headquarters, with the intention of preventing government forces from responding to the presidential palace attack.
Somalia, which suffers frequent attacks from al-Shabaab, experienced the deadliest attack in its history in October, when a truck bomb killed 512 people on a crowded street in the capital after being stopped at a checkpoint, although no group claimed responsibility.
According to analysts, internal problems within the Somali government, which have caused it to distance itself from the leadership of the army, have allowed militant groups to recover their ability to launch large-scale attacks.
Al-Shabaab joined al-Qaeda’s international network in 2012, and currently controls areas in the center and south of the country with the intention of establishing a so-called Islamic state in Somalia.
The group has also carried out attacks in neighboring Kenya.