Somali commandos stormed the municipal government building in the capital, Mogadishu, on Sunday to end a five-hour siege by al-Shabaab militants during which five civilians were killed, state media and officials said.
The attack began with a car bomb explosion at the entrance of the building in the Hamarweyne district before militants pretending to be soldiers raided the compound.
The information ministry said security forces rescued all government staff from the building and shot dead six militants involved in the assault.
Media outlets affiliated with al-Shabaab quoted a spokesperson for the group as saying that “34 apostates” were killed in the attack. Al-Shabaab refers to the government as “apostate”, which in turn calls the group “Khawarij”, meaning ultra-extremists.
Mogadishu mayor Yussuf Hussein Jim’ale was out of the country at the time of the attack.
In 2019, an al-Shabaab suicide attack on the same building killed then Mogadishu mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman.
The government said the latest “senseless” al-Shabaab violence was proof that “it is necessary to completely eliminate” the group from the country, according to the state-run Sonna news agency.
Analysts say al-Shabaab has demonstrated its ability to strike back at government targets with deadly force despite losing a large swathe of territory to the national army and allied clan militias in recent months.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said last Tuesday that the government was “about to conclude the first phase” of an offensive against al-Shabaab that started in August and that it “will soon launch the second phase”