Skip to main content

12 dead in Islamist attack on Somali prison

By Susanna Capelouto, CNN, and Journalist Omar Nor
updated 1:29 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
The site of a car bomb and gun attack on a prison and intelligence headquarters in Mogadishu on August 31, 2014.
The site of a car bomb and gun attack on a prison and intelligence headquarters in Mogadishu on August 31, 2014.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Al-Shabaab rebels try to storm a prison in Mogadishu
  • Twelve die, including seven Al-Shabaab fighters, in "foiled attack," security forces say
  • The attackers wore government military uniforms
  • The prison houses mostly Al-Shabaab members on death row

(CNN) -- Islamist rebels dressed in government military uniforms approached the gate of a high security prison in Mogadishu on Sunday, set off a car bomb and fired their way into the building, eyewitness Farah Mohammed told CNN.

They were Al-Shabaab fighters, and security guards at the prison "foiled the attack" and killed seven of the rebels, Somalia's Information Minister H.E. Mustafa Duhulow said in a statement.

"The attackers exchanged heavy gunfire with prison guards after detonating a car bomb at the main gate," Mohamed said. "A plume of dark smoke could be seen rising from the attacked complex."

During the assault on the National Intelligence and Security Agency prison three security guards and two civilians were also killed, 15 others were injured, Security Ministry spokesman Mohamed Yusuf told CNN.

The attackers tried to free their fellow Al-Shaabab members held at the prison, who were sentenced to death by a Somali military court tribunal, said police Officer Abdifarah Ali.

"We were behind today's raid on NISA prison in Mogadishu," Al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Musab said on pro-militant radio station Al-Andalus. "Our Mujahideen forces stormed the complex and then sprayed the prison guards with bullets and bombs," he said.

The government praised the security forces, saying it shows that Somalia has improved security.

"These terrorists groups are against the security improvements we are currently experiencing here in Mogadishu," Information Minister H.E. Mustafa Duhulow said in a statement. "We say to them that these foiled attacks strengthen our forces and prove their bravery to the people of Somalia," he said.

The NISA prison is underground and is close to the Somali presidential palace in Mogadishu. Hundreds of inmates, mostly Al-Shabaab members, are being held there.

Al-Shabaab is an al Qaeda-linked militant group seeking to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

The group claimed responsibility for the deadly attack at a Kenyan mall last year and is believed to be responsible for attacks in Somalia that have killed international aid workers, journalists, civilian leaders and African Union peacekeepers.

CNN's Nana Karikari-apau, and Kay Guerrero contributed to this story.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:43 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
A captured fighter tells CNN's Ivan Watson: "They gave us drugs... that made you go to battle."
updated 9:31 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
A terminally ill woman who plans to take her own life checks off the last item.
updated 7:40 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
In a plot straight out of Hollywood, federal agents gain access to a suspected Triad boss' Vegas hotel room by pretending to fix the Internet connection.
updated 12:34 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
Was it only black and Latino men who harassed a woman in NYC? The filmmaker has found himself in a race controversy.
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
The history of human rights often overlooks the struggles of gay people. This must change.
updated 9:15 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Armed with Kalashnikovs and chanting for the dead comrades, women are among ISIS' most feared enemies. They are fighting for their families -- and now they are getting U.S. help.
updated 8:46 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Lere Mgayiya put his best foot forward and set up a shoe-shine firm after his career plans fell flat.
updated 1:28 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
One Chinese drone manufacturer wants to take away the warmongering stigma of "drones."
updated 11:12 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Sketcher Luis Simoes is traveling the world -- slowly. And he's packed his sketchbook.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
European states help North Korea's brutal treatment of its people by allowing luxury goods like cars and cognacs to evade sanctions, two experts say.
updated 11:45 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
updated 7:04 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT