Prisoners escaped Wednesday morning after al-Shabaab’s raid in the Kahda District, Mogadishu. The attack started with an explosion at the police station, followed by a direct gunfight, killing at least three officers and wounding others. One police officer was confirmed missing, and several prisoners reportedly escaped from the station.
Kahda District, Mogadishu, SOMALIA. By Dalmar:
According to the Somali Digest’s sources, the intense assault started before 2:00 am. Al-Shabaab attacked Kahda in four directions: the police station, the district headquarters, and two outposts of the Military Police. Reports indicate that the militants killed at least three officers and injured several others.
The militant group claimed responsibility for the assault, saying it had killed 19 soldiers, of which 16 belonged to the Military Police. “In this blessed attack, which started with the Istish-Haadi [a suicide attacker], followed by a strong raid, we confirm by the grace of Allah that we killed 19 apostates [al-Shabaab’s pejorative term for the Somali Security Forces], 16 of whom called themselves Military Police.” The group often exaggerates its battlefield claims.
The attack’s most severe part targeted the police station, where the terrorists detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED). Police officers fought back. The militants then fired several rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) rounds at the station as they retreated.
Disturbingly, several prisoners at the police station reportedly fled after the attack. Al-Shabaab said the prisoners belonged to the group. However, the Somali Digest could not verify whether this was true and whether any high-profile prisoners were imprisoned at the station when the attack occurred. Nonetheless, the attack’s motive could be the prisoners’ release.
Intelligence and security failures
The attack on Kahda was one of two simultaneous attacks that al-Shabaab carried out in Mogadishu’s southern suburbs on that day. Also, it was one of al-Shabaab’s most significant attacks targeting Mogadishu in recent months. The ability to destroy government facilities signals al-Shabaab’s increased presence in Somalia’s capital and Somalia’s intelligence and security forces’ continuing failures. The attack is a reminder that despite the government’s ongoing offensive in the Galmudug State, al-Shabaab remains strong even in the capital.
Analysts suggest the Somali government will be increasingly vulnerable with the upcoming withdrawal of 3,000 African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) troops. Their exit should conclude by the end of September and include handing over several forward operating bases (FOB) to the Somali National Army (SNA).