Gunmen with the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab have again attacked the presidential compound in the capital, Mogadishu. Three militants were killed and a fourth captured following the July 8 assault on the government compound known as Villa Somalia. The terrorists struck as the city was breaking the Ramadan fast, breaching the gates of the compound, detonating a car bomb, and engaging security forces in a brief gunfight. A security guard was killed in the attack. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, and other government leaders were unharmed.
The attack on Villa Somalia is the second this year. Though Al-Shabaab was pushed out of some of its key strongholds in 2011 and 2012, the group maintains control of several cities and is still pervasive throughout the country. Al-Shabaab remains capable of conducting attacks in Somali and the region, most notably in Kenya.
Somalia has made progress since emerging in 2012 from a four-year United Nations-backed transition plan. A new provisional constitution has been written, a representative parliament elected, and a new leadership installed. Incidents like the July 8 attack, however, demonstrate that threats remain to both the government and Somali people. That is why the United States continues to support the efforts of the Somali National Security Forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, to expand security and stability throughout the country and the region. In the July 8 assault, these troops responded to the crisis, repelled the attackers, restored order and preserved lives.
The United States stands as a firm partner to the people of Somalia and the Somali government as they continue to forge their path to stability.