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Somali Presidential Palace Attacked as New Leader Moves In

  • Abdulaziz Osman

Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, center-right, holds a Somali flag during a handover ceremony at the presidential palace with former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, center-left, in Mogadishu, Somalia Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017.

At least two people were killed Thursday in a barrage of mortar rounds fired toward Somalia's presidential palace as the country's new leader moved in.

Abdifitah Halane, a spokesman for the Benadir regional administration, told VOA's Somali service that two children were killed when one of the mortars hit their home in Warta Nabadda district near the palace.

Halane blamed al-Shabab militants for the attack.

New President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo was not hurt, and there were no other reported casualties.

The mortar rounds were aimed at a ceremony where the former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud officially handed over the palace to Farmajo, who defeated Mohamud in an election by parliament two weeks ago.

Addressing the crowd of officials and journalists, Farmajo said, “It’s a historic day in Somalia. People in Somalia and around the world can see how smoothly we are transferring the power.”

“This government is for the people and by the people; we are bringing it back to you because you own it," he said.

He appealed fellow Somalis across the world to cooperated with his government’s bid to restore peace and order to Somalia.

“In terms of security and tax collection, we need you to protect this government and we pray that Allah may save us from the conflict and the drought we are struggling with,” he said.

President Farmajo also vowed that Somalia will one day rebuild its national army and say farewell to the African Union mission, AMISOM, which protects the government from al-Shabab.

Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulle in Mogadishu contributed to this story.

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