21 February 2014

Somalia: Attack On Presidential Palace

Gunmen have attacked Mogadishu's presidential palace, home to Somalia's internationally-backed interim government. Assailants engaged in a gun battle with African UN peacekeepers.

The presidential palace in Somalia's capital was targeted Friday by a car bomb at its entrance following by gunmen who breached the compound. UN special envoy Nick Kay said President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was unharmed but other lives had been lost.

Kay in a message quoted the president as saying the attack had "failed."

"Sadly some lives lost," Kay wrote on his official Twitter feed.

Senior Somali police officer Abdikadir Ahmed told Reuters that "a house near the palace was under attack."

"The fighters are inside and AMISOM (AU peacekeeping troops) are firing bullets and shells," Ahmed said.

He said after the car bomb detonated "other al Shabaab cars with armed men drove inside the palace [compound]."

A second police officer, Ali Hassan, said a second blast was heard during the attack.

The gun battle continued for a sustained period but by early afternoon local time it was unclear whether it had ended.

Attacks in recent months

Mogadishu has faced a series of attacks in recent months, claimed by the al-Qaeda-linked militant group al-Shabab.

On Thursday last week, a car bomb exploded close to a UN convoy at a junction (pictured) outside the city's heavily-guarded airport, killing seven Somali bystanders, including guests at a tea shop.

(AFP,AP, Reuters)

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