Somalia Police officer suspended, cops arrested after deadly hotel siege
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Dozens of Somali police force members have been arrested in connection to weekend hotel attacks in Mogadishu which left over 10 people dead, officials said, and will now have to be probed to clear the air about their alleged connection to the attack.
Police chief General Abdi Hassan Hijar also announced the suspension of Abdulaziz District police commissioner Ahmed Abdullahi Bashane over similar claims of facilitating attackers to Elite Hotel in Mogadishu, an incident which has been widely condemned by locals and members of the international community.
The police boss said that the suspects will be grilled by detectives over suspicions that they may have colluded with attackers along certain checkpoints given that security within the capital Mogadishu has been improved in recent years, given sophisticated operations by members of security forces.
Gen. Abdi said that the government will issue a statement once investigations are concluded but insisted that his team was still piecing together evidence to help prosecute the suspects. However, he did not mention the number of suspects from the police.
"We have suspended the district police commissioner and members of the police force in connection with the Al-Shabaab attack. We are piecing evidence together and once we establish the links, they will be arraigned and charged in court," the police officer said.
He added: "We cannot tolerate incidents where government officials are colluding with criminals to antagonize our people. We shall ensure that culprits face the rule of law for interfering with our security systems. The security team has an obligation to protect us."
The Sunday attack at the hotel came just a few days after the Al-Shabaab militants raided April 12 military base in an incident that left dozens of soldiers dead. The attackers also used an explosive ridden car which was detonated within the base.
Elite Hotel attack left at least 16 people dead, including senior government officials and wounded dozens. Among those who survived to include Mohamed Moalimuu, the Federal of Somali Journalists Secretary-General, who apparently, survived for the fourth time in his life.
"I could not run immediately after jumping. People running away from the scene were being shot at," he told the BBC team, adding that several people were injured during the siege which lasted for a couple of minutes.
"I knew if you have anything colored, like a shirt, it could easily attract the attention of the attackers. I had on a green T-shirt so I removed it and started to run on the beach. I was barefoot, having abandoned my shoes," he added.
Somalia has been battling with security lapses in critical government departments something which could raise serious concerns. For instance, reports indicate that weapons were smuggled to Mogadishu prison in yet another attack last week which left over 19 people dead.
In the past, there have been reports of serious Al-Shabaab infiltration into government institutions, with the National Intelligence Security Agency [NISA] being projected as one of the affected institutions since Farmajo took office in 2017.