News / Africa

Somali President 'Safe' After al-Shabab Attack on Palace

Map of Mogadishu, Somalia
Map of Mogadishu, Somalia
Gabe Joselow

Somali officials say the country’s president and prime minister are safe following an attack by militant group al-Shabab on the presidential palace in Mogadishu.

Witnesses reported explosions and heavy gunfire in and around the presidential compound known as Villa Somalia as several gunmen stormed the gates and tried to force their way inside just as many Somalis were sitting down to break their Ramadan fast.

The witnesses also say the gun battle died down by early evening. In a series of Twitter messages, the president’s office said the attack on Villa Somalia has been “foiled” and the area is secure thanks to Somali army and African Union forces.

“We heard a big explosion and there was major, major fight between soldiers and these guys al-Shabab, and it was happening right outside my window,” said Hussein Arab Isse, a member of parliament who was inside the compound at the time of the attack.

Somali police officials tell VOA Somali service that they are now “counting the bodies” to determine the casualties.

“President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the prime minister and other ministers are all safe,” government spokesman Ridwan Haji told VOA’s Somali service. I spoke to the prime minister and other ministers, and they are all fine.”

The president was not at the palace at the time of the assault, which Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for.

An al-Shabab said the group entered and captured parts of the palace compound during the attack, but Haji said that while it is possible that one or two of the gunmen may have entered the compound, they “did not succeed in their plan.”

A former government official in Mogadishu said the president was attending an Iftar event at the fortified Mogadishu airport compound along with the presidential guard, leaving Villa Somalia more vulnerable to the attack.

This is the second time this year that al-Shabab has tried to attack the presidential compound, which also houses government offices and residences. A suicide car bomb and gun attack on the site in February left at least 14 people dead.

The Somali militant group, which seeks to impose its own version of Islamic law in Somalia, has stepped up its assaults on government targets in recent months, attacking the parliament building twice and claiming responsibility for assassinations of government officials.

An African Union peacekeeping mission in the country has reclaimed territory from al-Shabab, but the militants continue to strike at government and international targets in the capital and increasingly in neighboring Kenya.

The United Nations special representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, called Tuesday’s attack an “attempt to rob Somalis of the peaceful state they deserve.”

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
July 08, 2014 11:42 PM
This is ridiculously outrageous how on earth we allowed this monstrous terrorists to continue attacking presidential palace and parliament building unabated?

Just expressing the concern and condemnation by the world leaders is not enough,.. please help us decimate this barbaric, uneducated terrorists of Al Shabaab.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs