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New Somali President survives assassination attempt as first test of office

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Hassan Sheikh Mohamed targeted by Al-Shabab suicide bombers

Somalia policemen gather at the area of a bomb blast at the Jazeera hotel compound where the newly elected Somali president Hasan Sheikh Mahmud was staying, in Mogadishu  AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA

Somalia policemen gather at the area of a bomb blast at the Jazeera hotel compound where the newly elected Somali president Hasan Sheikh Mahmud was staying, in Mogadishu
AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA

Barely into his second day as sresident of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamed became the target of a failed assassination attempt on Wednesday by the Islamist Al-Shabab rebel group. Sheikh Mohamed was residing in the Mogadishu hotel, where he was in discussions with the Kenyan Foreign Minister Sam Ongeri, when two explosions outside the hotel left three soldiers dead, AFP reported.

The attack seems to have been carried out by multiple suicide bombers but none of them managed to get into the hotel. “There has been a blast around the hotel where the president was. The president is safe. All the people who were inside the hotel are safe,” Ali Houmed, spokesman for the African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM) told AFP.

“We are responsible for the attack against the so-called president and the delegation,” Al-Shabab spokesman Ali Mohamed Rage told AFP. Al-Shabab denounced the newly-elected government, calling it illegitimate on Tuesday.

Surviving assassination attempts in Somalia is almost part of the job description for the president, as many of his predecessors have had at least one attempt made on their lives during their careers. Mogadishu itself is a particularly war-torn capital, where Al-Shabab has fought the government for control for the past five years.

Sheikh Mohamed’s election on Monday has been hailed as a step in the right direction by foreign powers, which oversaw the election period and have constantly been involved in peacekeeping missions in Somalia to keep it from falling into the hands of Al-Shabab and other such insurgency groups. Most of Mogadishu has been secured by AMISOM forces over the past few months as their offensive managed to put Al-Shabab on the retreat, but suicide bombings aimed at foreign and government targets are still common place.

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Luiz Sanchez

Luiz Sanchez

Journalist

Luiz is a Brazilian journalist in Cairo @luizdaVeiga


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