Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was unharmed Tuesday when a roadside bomb exploded near his car



Somali militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted to an affiliate website.

VOA’s Somali Service reports that an improvised explosive device went off as the president’s convoy was traveling to the southern Somali town of Merca, about 110 kilometers south of Mogadishu. A journalist traveling with Mohamud says gunshots were fired after the bomb.

One Somali soldier was wounded in the attack. However, the president was not injured and continued on to Merca, where he is conducting political outreach, as part of his government’s attempt to stabilize the country.

African Union and Ethiopian forces have driven al-Shabab out of Somalia’s major cities but the group continues to control rural areas and carries out periodic attacks.

On Monday, Mohamud opened a conference with political and religious leaders to discuss rebuilding war-torn Somalia and holding national elections by 2016.

The current government, which came to power in a U.N.-backed process last year, has been Somalia’s most stable government since the fall of President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.