Mortar shells were fired at the parliament building in Villa Hargeisa, the capital of Somalia, as the nation gets underway in electing a new president.
The mortars hit the front door of the compound, just as a meeting of lawmakers from both houses of parliament ended with the approval of the presidential election process.
The situation at the venue changed dramatically, and security was disrupted at the Parliament building as efforts was underway to expedite the election.
According to our sources, there are many casualties from the mortar shelling on the Somali Parliament building.
The sources added that the wounded included two of the bodyguards of MP Abdirahman Abdishkuur Warsame who was inside the parliament building.
Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack, in a statement posted on its website.
The group said the mortars hit inside the compound, but did not disclose the exact number of casualties.
This raises concerns about the security situation in the country, especially in the capital Mogadishu, at a time of transition and difficult elections.
A statement from Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble said “The Prime Minister of the Federal Government of Somalia condemns acts of terrorism that are intended to disrupt the work of the Federal Parliament.”
Prime Minister Roble described the motive for the mortar attack as “cowardly and intimidating” to the parliament, in order to disrupt the election.
“Today’s attempt was a cowardly act aimed at intimidating the parliament which is in the process of fulfilling its constitutional mandate” Prime Minister Roble’s office said in a statement.
Mohamed Hussien Roble has been praised for his leadership in steering the country from a potential conflict to concluding the delayed elections.