Soldiers arrested over role in Al-Shabaab attack in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Several soldiers have been arrested in line with the Al-Shabaab attack which targeted Villa Rays Hotel in Mogadishu on November 28, Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre has confirmed, in what could expose cracks within the security sector of the country.
In an interview with the Somali National Television on Friday, Hamza Abdi Barre said most of the soldiers who were manning the busy and highly fortified route towards the hotel near Villa Somalia have been arrested following preliminary investigations that linked them to the attack.
"We promised that authorities would carry out a real investigation. There is no doubt among the citizenry that the government is working to uncover all the details. We have decided that the [al Shabaab] militants are not with us. Don't live among these men," said Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre.
In December last year, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud vowed to ensure culprits are brought to book, arguing that the soldiers would have been more alert given that the attack was conducted near Villa Somalia, a highly guarded presidential residence when he was ushering in investors.
For over 20 hours, security forces were involved in shootouts with the Al-Shabaab militants who had taken over the strategic floor within the Villa Rays Hotel. It took the intervention of elite Danab Special forces to end the siege which attracted international condemnation.
Witnesses said the attack started with a suicide bomber driving in a vehicle entering the hotel before Al-Shabaab fighters followed the vehicle. More than 20 civilians were brutally killed in a facility that was frequented by senior government officials.
Hamza Abdi Barre also lauded the significant gains made in the war against Al-Shabaab militants within central and southern Somalia, which has seen the group lose various strategic towns which are key in the ongoing liberation of the country from the Al-Qaida-linked group.
"We have developed a strategy to provide healthcare, water, education, justice, and other services to the areas liberated from al Shabab. The police have been deployed in Aden Yabal, and intelligence forces are being prepared. As we take them back from al Shabaab, we will also deploy police and intelligence forces in other areas," he said.
The country has been working closely with US Africa Command, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, and local militia, who have made it possible for some regions to be liberated. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has declared full war against Al-Shabaab militants.