Somali government radio says Tuesday’s attack on the presidential palace was led by a man who had access to the compound and had passed information to militant group al-Shabab.
Radio Mogadishu identified the suspect by his first name only, but multiple sources tell VOA Somali Service the suspect’s name is Hassan Muhiyadin. He was captured following the attack, in which three other gunmen were killed.
The report says Muhiyadin, a technician for a local telecommunications firm, had become known in the palace over the past two years but no one suspected him of connection to al-Shabab, which claimed responsibility for the palace attack.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud was not at the palace at the time of the assault, and no other Somali officials were injured.
The radio report said the attackers’ main target was Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed. It said three of the attackers were wearing government uniforms and were armed with AK-47 rifles and hand grenades.
Muhiyadin allegedly helped the assailants pass through several checkpoints and get close to the prime minister’s office before security guards intervened and gunfire erupted.
Radio Mogadishu reports he had passed information about prayer times in the palace mosque and movements of the Somali defense minister to al-Shabab. It says he was on the al-Shabab payroll earning about $200 per month.
This was al-Shabab’s second major attack on the presidential palace this year. Seventeen people were killed in the first attack in February.