MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – After recent bomb attack, Somalia’s presidential palace has introduced a series of measures that require identity verification for passengers on public buses and pedestrians on nearby roads to reduce chances of attackers piercing its security perimeter and endangering the president and other government officials.
Somali president’s palace, known to many as Villa Somalia, has long been heavily fortified and highly protected with visitors screened as far as a kilometer away, but attackers of the militant group Al-Shabaab have managed to carry out attacks inside its security perimeter.
Several security officials and soldiers were killed in a suicide bomb attack on a security checkpoint near the palace two weeks ago. Since then plans for further enhanced security have been introduced after the incident exposed gaps in the security forces’ ability to secure the formal seat of the executive and the home of the president, speaker of parliament and the prime minister.
Attacks carried out by Al-Shabaab group in Somalia have become more common in the capital and in areas near the presidential complex and at times such occurrences break headlines almost monthly.
Sources at the palace told Somaliguardian earlier this month that two members of the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab group checked in a hotel near Villa Somalia and asked its owner to pay Zakat money or face consequences. The incident created panic inside the villa and the two men left the area unidentified and without being intercepted by security forces.
Over the past few months, security forces have expanded the buffer zone of the president’s palace to additional square kilometers with authorities still mulling over further expansions to shore up security at the complex. Hundreds of heavily armed guards are omnipresent. But the measures have severely impacted residents in the nearby neighborhoods while many of them face everyday possibilities of being refused access to their own homes.
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