Somalia forces kill 5 rebels who attacked president’s house

The main gate of the presidential palace in Mogadishu, near where the attack took place on Tuesday. (AFP/File photo)
Updated 10 December 2019

Somalia forces kill 5 rebels who attacked president’s house

  • Police killed at least 3 of the assaulters, and 20 others have been rescued from the hotel
  • The attack appears to be a new tactical shift by the rebels

MOGADISHU: Five heavily armed Islamic extremist rebels attacked the presidential palace in Somalia’s capital Tuesday before all were killed by security forces in a shootout that spread from the heavily fortified government complex to a nearby hotel, police said.
At least three people were killed in the firefight at the SYL hotel, which lasted about two hours and was marked by sustained gunfire punctuated by grenade blasts, said Ahmed Ali, a Somali police officer. He said 20 others, including government officials, have been rescued from the hotel.
Security forces and guards fought off the attackers, denying them access to the hotel, frequented by government officials and Mogadishu’s elite, he said.
Police Capt. Mohamed Hussein said that soldiers shot dead three attackers near the entrance to the presidential residence and then killed the last two near the parking lot of the nearby hotel after they took positions by the kitchen area, close to the first gate of the hotel compound.
Somalia’s extremist rebels, Al-Shabab, have claimed responsibility for the attack, according to an announcement on their Andalus radio station.
The attack appears to be a new tactical shift by the rebels. Previously they have used car bombs at heavily fortified targets to blow openings for gunmen to enter on foot. This assault was carried out completely by gunmen on foot. Security officials said new security measures, including multiple checkpoints across Mogadishu, have made it difficult for the rebels to sneak car bombs into the capital city and have forced the rebels to stage attacks on foot.


Hong Kong police fire tear gas to break up anti-government protest

Updated 19 January 2020

Hong Kong police fire tear gas to break up anti-government protest

  • Hong Kong police intervened promptly when the rally turned into an impromptu march
  • The protests had lost some of their intensity in recent weeks

HONG KONG: Police fired tear gas on Sunday to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters who gathered in a central Hong Kong park, but later spilled onto the streets in violation of police orders.
Out in numbers before the demonstration began, police intervened promptly when the rally turned into an impromptu march. Several units of police in riot gear were seen chasing protesters and several arrests were made.
A water cannon truck drove on central streets, flanked by an armored jeep, but was not used.
Organizers initially applied for a permit for a march, but police only agreed to a static rally in the park, saying previous marches have turned violent.
Once protesters spilled onto the streets, some of them, wearing all-black clothing, barricaded the roads with umbrellas and street furniture, dug up bricks from the pavement and smashed traffic lights.
The “Universal Siege Against Communism” demonstration was the latest in a relentless series of protests against the government since June, when Hong Kongers took to the streets to voice their anger over a now-withdrawn extradition bill.
The protests, which have since broadened to include demands for universal suffrage and an independent investigation into police handling of the demonstrations, had lost some of their intensity in recent weeks.
In an apparent new tactic, police have been showing up ahead of time in riot gear, with officers conducting “stop and search” operations near expected demonstrations.
“Everyone understands that there’s a risk of stop-and-search or mass arrests. I appreciate Hong Kong people still come out courageously, despite the risk,” said organizer Ventus Lau.
On Jan 1, a march of tens of thousands of people ended with police firing tear gas to disperse crowds.
The gathering in the park was initially relaxed, with many families with children listening to speeches by activists.
In one corner, a group of volunteers set up a stand where people could leave messages on red cards for the lunar new year to be sent to those who have been arrested. One read: “Hong Kongers won’t give up. The future belongs to the youth”.
Authorities in Hong Kong have arrested more than 7,000 people, many on charges of rioting that can carry jail terms of up to 10 years. It is unclear how many are still in custody.
Anger has grown over the months due to perceptions that Beijing was tightening its grip over the city, which was handed over to China by Britain in 1997 in a deal that ensured it enjoyed liberties unavailable in the mainland.
Beijing denies meddling and blames the West for fomenting unrest.