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Presidential palace in Somalia hit by major car bomb, gun attack: police

Published on Feb 21, 2014 7:01 PM

MOGADISHU (AFP) - The presidential palace in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, home to the country's internationally-backed government, was hit on Friday by a massive car bomb followed by a raid by gunmen, said police and witnesses.

The UN's special envoy to Somalia said the country's president, Mr Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, had telephoned to say he was unharmed in the attack against the Villa Somalia, one of the most heavily fortified places in the country.

"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 AFP.

The attack appeared to bear all the hallmarks of Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels, and comes just a week after the militants carried out a suicide car bomb attack at the gates of Mogadishu's heavily-fortified international airport.

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