6 dead after attackers target Somalia’s presidential palace

Somali security force personnel walk among debris at the site of a car bomb explosion near the building of the Interior Ministry in Mogadishu on July 7, 2018. Two explosions have rocked Somalia's internal security ministry in the capital Mogadishu, killing five civilians, a police officer said, in the latest attack claimed by Shabaab militants. (File Photo: AFP / Mohamed Abdiwahab)
Updated 14 July 2018
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6 dead after attackers target Somalia’s presidential palace

  • The confrontation came a week after an attack on the nearby interior ministry compound in Mogadishu killed at least nine people
  • In past incidents, al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab have used car bombs to target government buildings in the capital

MOGADISHU: Somali security forces shot dead three extremists and foiled an attempted Al-Shabab attack on the presidential palace that began with a car bomb exploding, police said Saturday.
The confrontation came a week after an attack on the nearby interior ministry compound in Mogadishu killed at least nine people, again raising questions about the state of security in the most sensitive areas of Somalia’s capital.
Six people were dead in all including a suicide car bomber, Capt. Mohamed Hussein told The Associated Press, saying the situation had calmed and security in the area was being tightened.
The midday attack began when a car bomb detonated near a checkpoint close to the presidential palace after security forces engaged with gunmen. A second car bomb exploded in the same area shortly afterward, Hussein said.
“There were skirmishes between security forces and the attackers and then we had a big blast and a huge boom. The blast knocked me down,” one witness, Osman Ali, told the AP.
The Somalia-based Al-Shabab extremist group, an arm of Al-Qaeda, often targets high-profile places in the capital. It claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack, saying its fighters were conducting a “major operation” around the palace and nearby SYL Hotel.
Al-Shabab was blamed for the October truck bombing in Mogadishu that killed more than 500 people in the deadliest attack in the country’s history.
The threat from what has become the deadliest Islamic extremist group in sub-Saharan Africa has hurt efforts to strengthen Somalia’s fragile government and stabilize the long-chaotic Horn of Africa nation.
The United States under the Trump administration has stepped up military efforts in Somalia, including dozens of drone strikes, against Al-Shabab and a small presence of fighters linked to the Daesh group. At least two US military personnel have been killed.
The US military and others in the international community have expressed concern about the plan for Somalia’s security forces to take over the country’s security from a multinational African Union force over the next few years, saying the local troops are not yet ready.


Survivors: Up to 117 migrants missing in capsizing off Libya

Updated 9 min 30 sec ago
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Survivors: Up to 117 migrants missing in capsizing off Libya

  • The migrants came mainly from west Africa
  • The Italian navy said it had alerted Libyan authorities who coordinated rescue operations

MILAN: A rescue official says survivors have told rescuers that up to 117 migrants might have died when a rubber dinghy capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya.
Flavio Di Giacomo of International Organization for Migration says three survivors were plucked to safety by an Italian navy helicopter on Friday, and they say 120 were aboard when the dinghy left Libya.

He said the people came mainly from west Africa, adding: “Ten women including a pregnant girl were aboard and two children, one of whom was only two months old.”
The navy says its airplane launched life rafts after it spotted the sinking dinghy Friday with about 20 people aboard. It wasn't immediately clear if some migrants had already fallen off.
The Italian Coast Guard says Libya asked a nearby cargo ship to search for survivors, but no one was found.
The Italian news agency ANSA quoted Libyan authorities as saying a dispatched Libyan coast guard boat turned back after mechanical problems.
According to the IOM, 2,297 migrants died or went missing in the Mediterranean last year, out of a total of 116,959 people who reached Europe by sea.
Arrivals in the first 16 days of 2019 totalled 4,449, almost all by sea, compared with 2,964 in the same period of 2018.
“As long as European ports will remain open ... sea-traffickers will continue to do business and kill people,” Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said in a Facebook post late on Friday.
Since Italy’s populist government came to power in June, Salvini, leader of the anti-migrant League, has closed Italian ports to humanitarian vessels.