News24

Somali presidential bombing - inside job

2012-03-15 20:11

Mogadishu - A suicide bomber who blew himself up at the Somali president's compound, killing five people, was helped by an employee of the presidency, the government said on Thursday.

The attacker detonated an explosive vest at the heavily guarded compound on Wednesday ahead of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's return to the country from Ethiopia.

"A member [of staff] from the office of the president... helped the bomber reach the palace area," government spokesperson Abdirahman Osman Yarisow said, reading a cabinet statement.

The bomber crossed three security check points without being stopped before triggering the explosives, killing himself and five other people. His accomplice was among the dead, Yarisow said.

The al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabaab insurgents claimed responsibility for the blast, which also wounded 10 others.

"We call on all Somalis to take part in the war against the infidels and the apostate government," Shabaab spokesperson Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage said late on Wednesday.

The hardline Islamists have resorted to guerilla tactics after abandoning fixed bases in Mogadishu in August.

Power vacuum

The rebels have waged a bloody war since 2007 to topple the government, who are protected by a contingent of African Union troops in the capital.

The Shabaab and other militia groups have tried to exploit the power vacuum in Somalia, which has had no effective central authority since plunging into war 21 years ago when president Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled.

In recent months however, the Shabaab have faced increasing pressure from the armies of Somalia's neighbours.

Kenya sent its troops into southern Somalia to fight them last October blaming the Shabaab for the abductions of several foreigners.

Ethiopian forces entered Somalia a month later, entering the west of the country.

Analysts have nevertheless warned that the Shabaab remain a major threat in the Horn of Africa state.