Somalia’s Islamist al Shabaab rebels launched a major bomb attack and armed assault against the country’s presidential palace late Tuesday, penetrating the heavily-fortified complex and fighting a major gunbattle with security guards.
Security sources said Somalia’s internationally-backed President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, was unharmed and safe with guards from the African Union’s 22,000-strong AMISOM force.
“There was an attack on the presidential palace, with gunmen attacking a checkpoint at the rear of the compound,” police officer Ali Hussein told AFP. “There was a major explosion and security forces are fighting them.” An al Shabaab spokesman said the al Qaeda-linked group was behind the attack, and claim their commandos had managed to seize the president’s office inside the presidential compound known as the Villa Somalia.
“Our commandos are inside the so-called presidential office,” al Shabaab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab told AFP. “We are in control of the headquarters of the apostate regime.”