The Somali armed forces shot dead five assailants who were reportedly attempting to attack the presidential palace before hiding in a nearby hotel frequented by MPs or military officials.
The attack began around 19H00 (16H00 GMT) and very quickly, the commando, composed of an indeterminate number of attackers, was confronted with the shooting of members of the security forces assigned to neighboring checkpoints leading to the Somali presidency.
Various sources interviewed by AFP claimed that several of the attackers had managed to enter the hotel SYL. Police captain Mohamed Hussein said the soldiers shot dead three assailants near the entrance to Villa Somalia, the presidential palace, and then killed the last two near the parking lot of the neighboring hotel.
« The security forces are confronting a number of armed assailants entrenched in the hotel but very quickly, we will finish the siege », had told AFP Ibrahim Mohamed, a member of the security forces deployed on square.
In a statement posted on a site acquired for their cause, the Shebab claimed « to have conducted a transaction that took place as planned », but without giving details.
Several witnesses described to AFP the scenes of panic triggered by this attack.
« There is always an exchange of fire in the hotel and sometimes you hear a grenade detonation. Three of my friends were inside the hotel when the attack started, but soon they escaped. One of them suffers a fracture after jumping over the wall, « Ali Moalim Nur told AFP.
« I was near the hotel when the gunshots broke out, we managed to quickly turn around with our vehicle, » said another witness, Abdukadir Ahmed.
« The security forces posted on the checkpoints around the presidential palace were firing with heavy weapons but we do not know exactly who was fighting against whom, » he added.
The SYL hotel, where the attackers were hiding, was repeatedly targeted by Shebab insurgents. This is the fourth time since 2015 that he has been targeted by an attack claimed by the Shebab. For analysts, its proximity to the ultra-secure compound of Villa Somalia, a fortified complex housing the Somali presidency and offices of the Prime Minister, is certainly for something.
The Shebab, who have pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda, have sworn the loss of the Somali government. Confronted with the superior firepower of the African Union force in Somalia (AMISOM), deployed in Somalia in 2007, they were driven out of Mogadishu in August 2011. Although they continue to retain huge swathes of territory in the rural areas from which they plan and carry out attacks against the capital in particular.