MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somali National Security Minister Abdikarim Hussein Gulled announced his resignation today after the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab killed 24 people in an attack at the national parliament.
Gulled made the announcement on state-run Radio Mogadishu. He did not say why he was stepping down, but he has been under pressure from parliament over ongoing insecurity in the east African country.
Critics have said that Gulled lacked experience in the security field.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud cut short a trip to South Africa, where he attended the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma for a second term, saying he would be back Sunday in Mogadishu.
The fatalities included 13 al-Shabaab fighters and two African Union peacekeepers, an AU spokesman said. Police in Mogadishu said nine members of the Somali security forces were killed, bringing the death toll to 24.
More than 30 people were injured, including 14 members of the Somali security forces and five peacekeepers.
Gulled paid tribute to security force members who lost their lives in the fight against terrorists.
The attack began today with a suicide car bombing outside parliament. Insurgents dressed in Somali military uniforms then shot at guards who sought to keep them from entering the building. A second explosion was heard.
The attack occurred while lawmakers were meeting.
“A huge explosion shook the building, and I thought it had been demolished. Then fierce fighting erupted between security forces and the attackers,” lawmaker Dahir Amiin Jeesow told dpa.
The legislators were evacuated through another gate by Somali security forces and AU peacekeepers.
“We saw lots of smoke coming from around the area of the hall as we were evacuating from there. Some members of the security forces and attackers were lying in pools of blood,” another lawmaker, who asked not to be identified, told dpa.
Officials said security forces cleared the militants from the hall. Some blew themselves up. The fighting lasted for five hours, according to Somali officials.
Using Twitter, al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.
Prime Minister Abdiwali Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed said Somali forces had prevented a terrorist attack.
The Somali government has been battling al-Shabaab for years with the backing of AU troops. Al-Shabaab attacked the presidential palace in February, killing at least 12 people.