2 dead as al-Shabab claims mortar attack near Somalia palace

Mogadishu - Two civilians were killed in an al-Shabaab mortar attack outside Somalia's presidential palace during a handover ceremony for the country's new leader, police said Thursday, a sign of the enormous challenges facing the man who has promised his government will make security a priority.

At least three mortars slammed into a nearby residential area during the ceremony for President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, Captain Mohamed Hussein said.

The explosions could be heard near the end of the handover ceremony, startling those attending.

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi websites, cited al-Shabaab posts on Twitter that claimed responsibility for the attack.

At the blast scene, rescue workers carried the bloodied body of a child from a house after a mortar shell hit its roof.

"They don't care who gets hit but just want to terrorize everyone," said Mulki Ahmed, a neighbour.

This was the first mortar attack in the capital since Farmajo, who also holds US citizenship, was elected February 8 to lead a country recovering from a quarter-century of conflict.

"We can't achieve everything within a few months, therefore I am calling people to support us to serve our country," Farmajo said at Thursday's ceremony.

While the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab has been pushed out of most of its key strongholds, it continues to carry out deadly attacks in the capital, Mogadishu.

Recent targets have included hotels and checkpoints manned by Somalia's security forces or the multinational African Union peacekeeping mission that has been trying to stabilise this Horn of Africa country.

Fears of al-Shabaab attacks were a factor in delaying the presidential election multiple times since last year.

On the eve of the election, two mortar rounds fired by suspected extremists hit near the voting venue, a heavily guarded former air force base.

The election of Farmajo and the peaceful transfer of power have been seen as a key step toward having Somalia's first fully functioning central government since 1991, when warlords ousted dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other.

Somalia is now an increasingly important partner for the US military on counter-terrorism efforts, including drone strikes against al-Shabaab leaders.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What are your thoughts on the possibility of having permanent Stage 2 or 3 load shedding?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
I'll take that over constant schedule changes
13% - 660 votes
Why are we normalising Eskom’s mess?
72% - 3587 votes
I've already found alternative ways of powering my home/business
15% - 758 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.20
-0.1%
Rand - Pound
21.30
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
18.70
-0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
12.22
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.0%
Platinum
1,012.08
0.0%
Palladium
1,618.86
0.0%
Gold
1,928.39
0.0%
Silver
23.60
0.0%
Brent Crude
86.66
-0.9%
Top 40
74,766
+0.4%
All Share
80,791
+0.4%
Resource 10
77,871
-0.4%
Industrial 25
103,872
+0.7%
Financial 15
16,281
+0.6%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE