9 Shebab rebels killed in Somalia palace attack, president safe

MOGADISHU (AFP) - An attack by Shebab rebels against Somalia's presidential palace has ended with at least nine of the attackers killed, a security official told AFP.

"There were at least nine attackers, all have been killed, and the situation is under control, the attack is over," security official Abdi Ahmed said.

"There were eight blasts towards the end of the fighting, believed to have been suicide vests. They detonated themselves."

Somalia's Islamist Shebab rebels launched a major bomb attack and armed assault against the country's presidential palace late Tuesday, penetrating the heavily-fortified complex and fighting a major gunbattle with security guards.

Security sources said Somalia's internationally-backed President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was not inside the palace when it was attacked. He was unharmed and safe with guards from the African Union's 22,000-strong AMISOM force.

"There was an attack on the presidential palace, with gunmen attacking a checkpoint at the rear of the compound," police officer Ali Hussein told AFP. "There was a major explosion and security forces are fighting them."

Shebab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab said the Al-Qaeda-linked group was behind the attack, and claimed their commandos had managed to seize the president's office inside the presidential compound known as the Villa Somalia.

"The assault is a victory for us since the foreign installed government said that security was beefed up," he added.

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