21 February 2014

Somalia: Al-Shabab Attack Presidential Palace

Al-Shabab gunmen have attacked Mogadishu's presidential palace, home to the internationally-backed interim government of Somalia. Assailants engaged in a gun battle with security forces.

The presidential palace in Somalia's capital was targeted Friday by a car bomb at its entrance followed by nine gunmen from the al Qaeda-linked rebel group al-Shabab, 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.

A large car bomb exploded in the center of the presidential complex and a group of at least nine attackers entered the compound a firefight with security forces ensued. Al-Shabab rebels immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

National Security Minister Abdikarim Hussein Gulled said the attack had been successfully contained. He confirmed 12 people were killed in all, including the assailants. None of the dead were senior government officials, he added.

Media reports said a further 19 people had been injured, including lawmakers.

Mohamud called al-Shabab "a marginal group on the brink of extinction" and vowed that Somalia's army and the African Union's AMISOM force would "eliminate" the group.

Attacks in recent months

Mogadishu has faced a series of attacks in recent months, claimed by al-Shabab.

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

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