Somalia's spy agency blamed for facilitating deadly prison shootout
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The National Intelligence Security Agency [NISA] has yet again been drawn to the latest security lapse in Somalia, following a chaotic scene at Mogadishu Central Prison on Monday, which saw Al-Shabaab convicts exchange fire with security guards within the facility.
A total of 19 people - 15 inmates and 4 soldiers died on spot with some reports also indicating that 8 more persons were wounded in the shoot-out. One convict had escaped. The intense gunfight reportedly broke out when a convict snatched a gun from a guard before firing randomly, leaving three security officers dead.
A source revealed to VOA's Somali Service that Al-Shabaab operative who escaped during the gunfight inside the central prison on Monday afternoon was Mubarak Ibrahim Idle serving a 10 year-jail term that was handed down in 2014 for terror offenses.
In response, security forces opened fire which left four inmates dead. The government insisted that the incident was occasioned by rogue inmates who were keen to escape from the prison, adding that nobody managed to getaway.
But Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, the leader of Wadajir party, now says the spy agency should take responsibility for the chaos, arguing that the sleuths have been working closely with the Al-Shabaab militants to destabilize security details in Somalia, a country which has struggled for three decades with insecurity.
He claimed that NISA, which operates under the leadership of Fahad Yasin, a former Al-Jazeera journalist, has been conspiring with Al-Shabaab to cause insecurity in Somalia. Yasin, a close ally of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, has often been dragged to the local politics of the country.
"Last night, weapons smuggled into Central Prison to set free Al-Shabab inmates, this should not be blamed on prison authorities, it's a mission by the intelligence agency," said Abdishakur, who asked the upcoming PM to hold NISA leadership Accountable, if he needs public trust.
Despite the tough claims, the government is yet to respond to the claims. This is, however, not the first time NISA is being accused of collaborating with Al-Shabaab, given that early this year, security forces from Kenya intelligence services also accused NISA of sharing information with Al-Shabaab.
But in a rejoinder, the Federal Government of Somalia dismissed the allegations as "fake propaganda", adding that NISA was keen to serve the people professionally. The Somali government also asked residents to ignore the reports, adding that it has never tolerated Al-Shabaab.
A report published by the Voice of America on Monday claimed that the inmates may have accessed guns through smuggling to the prison. According to the reports, the pistols were smuggled when the inmates received visitors from outside despite an elaborate security protocol.
On Tuesday, the Somali caretaker government appointed a six-member committee to investigate the Monday incident. Among others, the committee will establish how the inmates accessed the weapons and fired at prison guards despite the facility being heavily guarded.