The Somali presidential palace came under fierce attack by Al Qaeda linked Al Shabab extremists. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was in the building during the attack but is reported to be safe.
The attack started with a huge car bomb which punched a hole in the perimeter fence of the Presidential fence. It was followed by a fierce gun battle in which all the nine attackers were killed. Two senior officials have also been killed. The security minister has told BBC that the attack is over and the situation is fully under control. UN envoy to Somalia, Nick Kay has tweeted that the President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is safe and not harmed. The Al Qaeda linked Islamist group al Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack and said that it had inflicted heavy damage to the Presidential palace. Both sides often exaggerate claims of damage.
The Presidential palace is also known as the Villa Somalia and it is for the first time that al-Shabab has attacked the presidential palace. The heavily fortified palace is the home of the President, Prime Minister, speaker of the Parliament, other ministers and also houses a mosque which also came under attack.
Senior police officer Abdikadir Ahmed told Reuters that the President was preparing for Friday prayers at the mosque when the attack happened. There are conflicting reports about the actual number of attackers. According to another Police Officer, there were 10 assailants with some of them wearing suicide vests. Most of the assailants blew themselves up while the rest were shot dead by the security forces guarding the complex.
The fighting is over now and according to the Security Minister Abdi Karim Hussein the President is safe and unhurt. However senior officials in the prime minister’s office and security services are said to have been killed.