The palace in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, home to the country’s internationally-backed government, has been hit by a massive car bomb followed by a raid by gunmen, police and witnesses said.
“There is a large attack on the presidential palace. Initial reports are that a suicide car bomber hit the gate and exploded, then men with guns followed,” police officer Mohamed Ali told the Agence-France Press news agency.
The Associated Press news agency said the gunmen were wearing suicide vests and carrying grenades. The Reuters news agency also reported a blast and gunfire in the city.
“Security forces are dealing with terrorists who blew up a car… and there is exchange of fire. We have no details of the casualties but of course there are casualties,” said Ahmed Moalim Adan, a security official near the scene of the attack told AFP.
Witness Hussein Isa said the attackers were fighting inside the presidential compound.
“A suicide bomber rammed a car full of explosives into the perimeter wall of the presidential palace and another one with heavily armed men penetrated the area where the first one hit. There is heavy exchange of gunfire continuing
inside the building but we cannot tell what is happening,” said the witness.
The sound of intense gunfire and sporadic explosions could be heard coming from the presidential complex, AFP reporters said.
The city has been hit by a series of suicide bomb attacks in the past few weeks, claimed by the al-Shabab armed group, who were pushed out of the city about two years go but have waged a sustained guerrilla campaign.