Deadly shooting leaves four Al-Shabaab inmates dead in Mogadishu prison
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Deadly shooting between security officers and Al-Shabaab inmates ensued at the heavily fortified Mogadishu Central Prison, a senior official confirmed, in a shocking and unprecedented incident which left four inmates dead and a number of fatalities on the security forces.
Ismael Mukhtaar, the Somali government spokesperson said four armed Al-Shabaab convicts tried to escape from the prison leading to a heavy gunfight with security officers, but they were killed on spot after a swift response from the officers who were manning the facility which plays host to most notorious Al-Shabaab prisoners.
The government spokesperson further said that there were casualties on the security guards but the number could not be established at the time of going to press. He blamed the convicts of trying to escape from a "legal" holding facility where they were serving different sentences.
"A commotion ensued after armed Al-Shabaab militants tried to escape from a legal holding facility," Mukhtaar said. "Security officers engaged them in a fierce gunfight and killed them within the parameters of the prison. The officers have since taken charge of the facility."
He added: "We of course have casualties on the government side but we shall give details later. It's a very unprecedented incident and we're really trying to establish what transpired. We shall give full updates after the areas are fully combed by the security forces."
Mogadishu Central Prison is home to dangerous inmates, mostly convicted Al-Shabaab militants who are either serving life or death sentences. The victims are tried and handed the sentences by court-martial, which has won accolades from Somalis in the war against the Islamist militants.
Multiple sources said the incident ensued after an Al-Shabaab inmate grabbed a gun from a guard within the facility before starting to shoot indiscriminately, mainly targeting security officers guarding the facility.
But a police officer who spoke to Garowe Online in confidence said that "the officer who lost the gun was shot dead on spot as the inmate tried to escape from the prison". Minutes later, he added, "another shooting started inside the facility as officers tried to contain the situation".
The inmate who is on the run and being chased by police was reported to have killed a rickshaw driver outside the prison and fled in the Tuk-Tuk, according to the latest reports from the capital. The gunfight began in the afternoon and continued until the evening when the security forces have ended the standoff the shot dead all the armed prisoners involved in the attack.
The prison is located next to a cement factory in Mogadishu and is guarded by elite security officers due to the nature of the criminals held in the family. In recent weeks, many Al-Shabaab convicts have been locked up in the facility after haste trials by the military courts in the Somali capital.
Besides Mogadishu Central Prison, hardcore criminals especially those from Al-Shabaab are detained in cells run by the National Intelligence Security Agency [NISA], Somalia's powerful spy agency, which is run by former Al-Jazeera journalist Fahad Yasin, who is also a controversial figure in the country's politics.
The attack comes barely a day after Al-Shabaab militants also attacked an army base within Mogadishu, leaving eight Somali National Army [SNA] officers dead. The attack at the April 12 military base was the second successful raid by Al-Shabaab militants at an army camp this year, after the February attack on El-Salini military base.
Security has since been beefed up within the capital and around the prison according to security forces. The attack raises questions about Somalia's state of preparedness ahead of 2021 planned exit of African Union Mission troops in Somalia, who are set to withdraw under the Somali Transition Plan [STP].