At least seven al Qaeda-linked militants who tried to storm Somalia’s presidential palace building in the capital died during a gun battle with security personnel, Security Minister Abdikarim Hussein Guled said.
An unconfirmed number of security officers were also killed and some of the attackers have been detained, Guled said today by phone from Mogadishu.
Al-Shabaab said it carried out the assault, which saw its fighters control parts of the compound for a couple of hours, said Abdulaziz Abu Musab, a spokesman for the group. Some of the militants wore suicide bomb vests, said Guled.
Al-Shabaab has waged an insurgency in Somalia since 2007 to try and topple the Western-backed government and impose Shariah, or Islamic law. The president, prime minister and other senior political figures reside in the presidential compound.
The United Nations Special Representative to Somalia, Nicholas Kay, said President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud called to say he’s unharmed, according to a posting on Kay’s Twitter account. Mohamoud said the “attack on Villa Somalia had failed,” Kay said, referring to the presidential palace.