Somalia: Al-Shabaab Jihadists Storm Presidential Palace

A file photo taken on February 13, 2012 shows members of the Al-Shabaab in Elasha Biyaha, Somalia

Islamic extremists from the Al Qaeda-linked terror group Al-Shabaab launched an offensive against the presidential palace in the Somalian capital of Mogadishu on Tuesday, leading to a shootout where five jihadists were killed.

Police Capt. Mohamed Hussein said that three terrorists were shot as they attempted to storm the entrance to the presidential palace in Mogadishu. He added that security officers initially mistook the gunmen for the police until they opened fire and began throwing grenades.

After two of the jihadists managed to escape, police tracked them down to a parking lot in a local hotel and executed them around two hours of gunfire and the throwing of grenades.

The attack took place around 7 p.m. on Tuesday and ended at about 1 a.m. the following day, when all five attackers had been killed, said deputy police commissioner General Zakia Hussen on Twitter.

“The security forces ended the operation. Five people including three civilians and two soldiers died in the attack,” she wrote. “Eleven others were slightly injured, including nine civilians and two soldiers.”

Around 20 people, including government officials, were successfully rescued from the building, home to a hotel typically vacated by politicians and members of Somalia’s economic elite.

The attack was later claimed by Al-Shabaab, whose military spokesman Abdiaziz Abu Musab said on Tuesday that the group’s fighters were responsible for the violence.

Somalia, located in East Africa, has been in a state of civil war since 1991, when militant groups overthrew dictator Siad Barre’s military junta. However, they eventually ended up turning on each other, with conflict and widespread violence ever since.

One of those militant groups was Al Shabaab, an Islamic extremist offshoot of al-Qaeda. Having once controlled much of the country, the organization was forced out of Mogadishu in 2011 with the help of U.S. military backing and has since lost most of its terrtitory.

However, the group has experienced somewhat of a resurgence in recent years, with its members regularly carrying attacks out in both Somalia and Kenya, which has many of its troops based in Somalia.

In September, the group successfully launched an attack on a U.S. military base in Somalia intended for drone strikes, as well as a convoy of European Union military advisers examining the region.

In July, the group also carried out a siege against a hotel in the southern port city of Kismayo that ended with 26 people being killed, including two Americans and one Briton.

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