Somali president’s palace under attack from al-Shabab



Islamist al-Shabab militants have attacked the presidential palace in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and are inside the heavily fortified compound.

An al-Shabab spokesman said fighting was ongoing. Gunfire and explosions can be heard.

The BBC’s Mohammed Moalimu in Mogadishu says President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is not at the palace.

The al-Qaeda-aligned al-Shabab group lost control of Mogadishu in 2011, but often carries out attacks in the city.

The group has vowed to step up attacks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

On Saturday, a suicide car bomb exploded near the parliament, killing at least four people.

Our reporter says President Mohamud was attending a function at the residence of the UN special envoy to Somalia, near the airport.

A large contingent of the Somali military police accompanied him, leaving the presidential palace, known as Villa Somalia, mainly under the protection of African Union soldiers, he says.

The presidential palace is the seat of government and many top government officials live and work there.

It is not clear if the prime minister and speaker of parliament are in the compound.

“We have entered the so-called presidential palace. We have now captured some parts of the palace and fighting is still going on,” al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told the Reuters news agency.

Our correspondent says the raid is believed to have started with a car bomb at a barrier near the entrance to the compound, after which the militants attacked from two directions.