Somalia's president survives al-Shabab attack on presidential palace
Al-Shabab, formed in 2006, has terrorized Somalia and surrounding countries with brutal attacks. The group merged with al-Qaeda in 2012. (AFP/File)
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Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has survived an assassination attempt following an attack on the presidential palace in the capital Mogadishu.
Police officials said on Friday that Mohamud escaped the assault unharmed while others were killed after gunmen wearing explosive vests attacked the presidential compound.
According to Police Captain Mohamed Hussein, the gunmen launched the attack with a car bomb, and then a gunfight erupted between guards and the assailants.
In addition, another police officer said a second explosion was heard during the assault.
Police said at least 14 people were killed in the attack, including five Somali officials or soldiers plus nine assailants.
Somalia's al-Shabab fighters later took responsibility for the attack on the palace, which is the residence of the country's president, prime minister and speaker of the parliament.
Al-Shabab fighters were driven out of the capital and other major towns by the UN-mandated African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) – which is made up of troops from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Kenya.
The group, however, remains in control of large parts of rural areas in southern Somalia and continues to carry out attacks on the foreign troops in the country.
Earlier in the month, the United Nations refugee agency raised concerns over the rising number of Somalis forced to leave their country as a result of violent clashes between government forces and al-Shabab fighters.
Somalia did not have an effective central government from 1991 until August 2012, when a previously agreed upon political transition was instituted.
On September 10, 2012, Somali clan elders appointed 275 members to a new parliament, which subsequently elected Mohamud as president.