News / Africa

Somali President Unharmed in Palace Attack, Killing 17

Somali government soldiers secure the scene of a suicide attack next to the gate of the Presidential Palace in Mogadishu on February 21, 2014.
Somali government soldiers secure the scene of a suicide attack next to the gate of the Presidential Palace in Mogadishu on February 21, 2014.
Gabe Joselow
Al-Qaida-linked militants in Somalia launched a major attack Friday on the presidential palace in Mogadishu, killing at least 17, including a senior official.  But the country's president escaped unharmed.

Witnesses say the attackers stormed the gates of the presidential palace, known as Villa Somalia, around the time of Friday prayers and tried to force their way inside the compound.

Security officials say the assailants wore military uniforms to gain access.  The chief of staff to Somalia's prime minister was among those killed.

The al-Shabab militant group has claimed responsibility.

United Nations envoy to Somalia, Nick Kay, speaking to VOA from London, said he received a phone call from Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud shortly after the attack.

“The president told me of two vehicle bombs exploding outside the rear gate, one shortly after the other, and then armed attackers entering, trying to enter the Villa Somalia complex, possibly up to about 15 or so armed attackers.”

Kay added that the president sounded "very calm and very composed."

A message on the official Twitter account for the Somali presidency thanked AU forces and the Somalia national army for stopping the attack. It called the incident “another act of desperation from a dying animal.”

Al-Shabab has lost territory over the past three years to a concerted military effort led by the AU force AMISOM.  But the group still controls areas of southern and central Somalia and has continued to wreak havoc in the capital, with periodic attacks against government or international targets.

The Somali government has announced plans to resume operations soon to remove the group from their remaining strongholds.

Kay said the group has become more violent as it comes under increasing pressure.

"We've seen an increase in the last few weeks in al-Shabab activity in Mogadishu, terrorist attacks, and I'm afraid that this is probably a pattern that we'll see for some time to come now as they have no other means to inflict terror. "

Last week al-Shabab claimed responsibility for a deadly car bombing targeting a United Nations convoy near the Mogadishu airport, where the U.N. has its headquarters.  At least six people were killed in that attack.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
February 23, 2014 3:34 AM
Al Shabaab are a faceless terrorists but demonstrated that they are capable of attacking anywhere in the country at will, and can kill anyone they want dead. Fortunately the president escaped with his life for the moment. Al Shabaab is not going to disappear from Somalia anytime soon. Al Shabaab's continuous barrage in and around Mogadishu and especially the attack at presidential palace demoralized all Somali people.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs