Somali government soldiers ride to take up position outside
the Parliament building during a clash with Al Shabaab
militants in the capital Mogadishu. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Al Shabaab militants have stormed Somalia's parliament,
killing at least 10 security officers in a bomb and gun assault
that the United States condemned as a "heinous act of
The attack - by the al Qaeda-linked group that killed 67
people at a Kenyan shopping mall last year - started with a
car bomb at a gate to the heavily fortified parliament
compound, followed by a suicide bombing and then a gun battle
that continued for hours.
"Ten government forces died and 14 others were injured in the
attack today. Four lawmakers were also injured. Seven of the
fighters who attacked the house were also killed as you see
their bodies," Kasim Ahmed Roble, a police spokesman, told
reporters at the scene.
Roble made no mention of any civilian casualties.
A spokesman for al Shabaab, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, said
the group's fighters had killed 30 people. "We killed 30 from
the AU (African Union) and from the various forces of the
so-called Somali government," he said.
The al Shabaab estimate of the death toll was not
Reuters witnesses saw four bodies at the scene and a soldier
fall from a rooftop after being shot. Reuters television
pictures showed a large pool of blood near a blast site, and
a man with his shirt drenched in blood running away from the
The fighting continued for hours after the initial explosion,
with gunfire and smaller blasts being heard around the
"We are behind the suicide bombing, explosions and the
fighting inside the so-called Somali parliament house, and
still heavy fighting is going on inside," said the al Shabaab
The African Union Mission in Somalia said in a statement that
all the lawmakers who were in parliament before the attack
were safely evacuated.
The attack on parliament, a building about 300 metres (yards)
from the president's palace that is guarded by African Union
peacekeepers and Somali forces, showed that the al
Qaeda-linked group remained capable of hitting the centre of
Mogadishu despite being pushed out of the capital two years
"The terrorists have once again shown that they are against
all Somalis, by killing our innocent brothers and sisters.
These cowardly, despicable actions are not a demonstration of
the true Islamic faith," said Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh
The U.S. State Department strongly condemned the attack,
offering condolences "to those affected by this heinous act
"We continue to stand firmly with the Federal Government of
Somalia and the many international partners working to
support its efforts to root out the threat posed by
al-Shabaab," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf
said in a statement. "Cowardly acts such as these will not
shake our resolve."
Nicholas Kay, the U.N. secretary-general's special
representative for Somalia, said: "The Federal Parliament
represents the people of Somalia and their hopes and
aspirations for a peaceful and stable future. Today's attack
is an attack against the people of Somalia for which there
can be no justification."
Somalia's government is struggling to impose any sense of
order, more than two decades after the fall of dictator
Mohamed Siad Barre tipped the country into chaos.
In February, at least 11 people were killed when al Shabaab
attacked the presidential compound. In April, it killed two
A Western diplomat who has worked with regional intelligence
agencies said the attack would add to pressure on President
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud from about 100 parliamentarians who
last month called for him to be impeached over worsening
"The federal government is exercising no control," the
diplomat said. "Those ... in parliament will start asking
questions: What is this guy achieving?"
The diplomat said the attack showed that a surge by the
African Union peacekeeping troops had not weakened al
Shabaab's capacity to wage asymmetric warfare in the capital,
where coordination between Somali and foreign intelligence
agencies is poor.
"Because intelligence is fragmented, al Shabaab is slipping
through the net," said the diplomat. "They are becoming more