Somalia: PM, security chiefs grilled in parliament over security failures

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Somali prime minister and the country’s intelligence chief have endured hours of marathon grilling by legislators over security lapse after series of attacks by the Al-Qaeda linked Al Shabab group which stepped up its guerrilla attacks in the country in recent months.

Al Shabab fighters have carried out at least three deadly attacks in Mogadishu and Baidoa town since last week.  Both attacks have killed at least 50 people. The group has also targeted the hilltop presidential palace with mortar shelling, killing three people in a nearby residential area.

Having appeared before the parliament during a rowdy session on Wednesday, prime minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke has defended his government against criticism by MPs that it failed to come up with a ‘comprehensive’ security plan that would help to prevent attacks by militants.

Mr. Sharmarke has insisted that despite attacks, his government had put all ‘necessary’ security arrangements in place including the deployment of troops across Mogadishu, a move he said had helped to prevent attacks.

However, parliamentarians have also argued that the attacks happened as result of ‘poor’ intelligence gathering, turning their focus to the intelligence chief Abdirahman Turyare who had to answer many questions directed at him.

Mr. Turyare has nonetheless defended the agency, saying that its troops and secret agents ‘tirelessly’ worked around the clock, an action he said helped to foil ‘several’ attacks and dismantled ‘terrorists’ networks.

Wednesday’s lengthy session continued until evening as legislators repeatedly raised their hands to question the prime minister and the intelligence chief, indicating strings of security ‘failures’ they said could have helped preventing attacks if handled properly.

Despite efforts by the security forces, security remains a major issue in the horn of Africa nation especially the capital Mogadishu which has seen an increase in the number of attacks by Al Shabab group which despite being ousted from its key strongholds stepped up its guerrilla attacks across large parts of the country.

The group which security experts say shifted its military tactics also carried out three major attacks on three African Union force bases in Somalia, which saw fighters overrun bases and killed ‘scores of soldiers. Militants have also confiscated a large amount of military armaments and vehicles, raising fears among AU officials that the group would use to them to carry out attacks disguised as African Union forces.

On Tuesday, Somali government has unveiled a new security plan which aims to secure Mogadishu in response to the latest attacks, with fears of more attacks are being raised despite the large security presence across the city.

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