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Mortar Rounds Shake Mogadishu Ahead of Somali Presidential Vote

  • VOA News

African Union (AU) soldiers stand with their armored vehicles near a checkpoint on the eve of presidential elections in Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 7, 2017.

African Union (AU) soldiers stand with their armored vehicles near a checkpoint on the eve of presidential elections in Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 7, 2017.

Five mortar rounds exploded near Mogadishu airport in the capital of Somalia Tuesday evening, ahead of a parliament meeting on Wednesday to elect the country's next president.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from the mortar attack. Some residents blamed militant group al-Shabab, which has vowed to disrupt the election.

One of the mortars landed year Jazeera Hotel, less than one kilometer north of Mogadishu's international airport, the venue of Wednesday's presidential election.

An explosion from a grenade attack was also reported near Dabka junction in Hodan district. So far, no casualties have been reported in that attack.

Somali soldiers prepare to secure the capital on the eve of presidential elections in Mogadishu, Feb. 7, 2017.

Somali soldiers prepare to secure the capital on the eve of presidential elections in Mogadishu, Feb. 7, 2017.

Military base attacked

Outside Mogadishu, suspected militants launched mortar attacks and fired weapons at a military base run by African Union troops Tuesday evening, according to an official near the base in Arbaow, 13 kilometers south of Mogadishu.

The incumbent president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, is seeking re-election against more than 20 other candidates, including his predecessor, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, and two former prime ministers. The group of voters will meet at Mogadishu's international airport under heavy security provided by AMISOM, the African Union mission in Somalia.

Most of the 329 members of parliament who will be participating in the election live in hotels in Mogadishu. They, along with 22 presidential candidates, will arrive at the airport early Wednesday for screening before the voting begins.

A Somali policeman stands guard along a road which was blocked to control motor vehicle traffic, during a security lock down ahead of Wednesday's election in Mogadishu, Feb. 7, 2017.

A Somali policeman stands guard along a road which was blocked to control motor vehicle traffic, during a security lock down ahead of Wednesday's election in Mogadishu, Feb. 7, 2017.

No comment from government

Somalian officials have not commented on Tuesday's reports of attacks.

Observers say some candidates are trying to buy the presidency through cash and gifts to lawmakers.

AMISOM has protected Somalia's fragile government for a decade against al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab.

VOA's Harun Maruf contributed to this report.

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