Saturday, 22 February 2014

Car Bomb Explodes Outside The Palace Of Somalia's President

A huge car bomb has exploded at the gates of Somalia's presidential palace, followed by a fierce gun battle inside, officials say.

It is not clear how many people died in the attack but a minister told the BBC the situation was "under control".

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has told the UN envoy to Somalia he was not harmed, envoy Nick Kay has tweeted.

The al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabab has said it carried out the attack, which it said was still ongoing.

Senior police officer Abdikadir Ahmed told the Reuters news agency the fighting was going on in the house of a military commander within the presidential compound, near the palace.

"The car bomb hit and exploded and other al-Shabab cars with armed men drove inside the palace, and heavy fighting is still going on," he said.

Security Minister Abdi Karim Hussein told the BBC Somali service that some of the attackers had been killed and others captured.

He said all of the country's leaders were safe.

Al-Shabab military spokesman Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Musab said militants were still in control of some buildings inside the presidential compound.

"Our commandos have attacked the so-called presidential palace in order to kill or arrest those who who are inside," he told the AFP news agency.

Mr Kay said the attack on Villa Somalia had "failed".

"Sadly some lives lost. I condemn strongly this terrorism," he said.

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