Al Qaeda-linked militants attack Somali
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[February 21, 2014]
By Abdi Sheikh
MOGADISHU (Reuters) — Al Qaeda-linked
militants al Shabaab attacked the Somali presidential palace compound on
Friday, blasting through a gate with a car bomb and engaging in a fierce
gun battle with African peacekeepers, police said.
Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab claimed responsibility
for the attack on the heavily fortified compound in Mogadishu, known
as Villa Somalia, but the Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was
"President just called me to say he's unharmed. Attack on Villa
Somalia had failed. Sadly some lives lost," U.N. Special
Representative Nick Kay wrote on his official Twitter feed.
It was not immediately clear how many people were killed.
In the past few weeks, Mogadishu has been hit by a series of suicide
bomb attacks claimed by al Shabaab, who were pushed out of the city
in mid-2011 but have continued to wage a sustained guerrilla
Friday's battle took place at the house of Somalia's top military
commander, General Dahir Aden Indha Qarshe, located in the same
compound and near the presidential palace building, Abdikadir Ahmed,
a senior police officer, told Reuters.
"The al Shabaab fighters who attacked the palace were about ten men
in military uniform and the red hats (worn by the palace guards),"
Hussein Farah, a senior police officer at the scene, told Reuters.
"They had three cars. One was a car bomb and the other cars were
carrying well-armed fighters," he said.
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"All the Shabaab fighters perished, some blew up themselves while
others were shot dead. Several government guards also died. Now the
fighting is over, and scattered on the scene is human flesh and
At least seven Somalis were killed when a remote-controlled bomb
aimed at a U.N. convoy tore through cars and tea shops just outside
the capital's international airport last week.
(Additional reporting by Feisal Omar; writing by James Macharia;
editing by Jon Boyle and Sonya Hepinstall)
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