By Hamsa Omar and Eric Ombok, Bloomberg
Somalia’s presidential palace was hit by four mortar shells in an assault by suspected Islamist insurgents, an army spokesman said.
The attack occurred at Baidoa, 250 kilometers (155 miles) northwest of the capital, Mogadishu, earlier today, Colonel Dahir Mohamed Hersi said in an interview. No casualties have been reported, he said, adding that the attack was carried out by the al-Shabaab group. Abdulahi Sheikh Jeesow, a shop owner in Baidoa, said the area around the palace had been evacuated.
"Ethiopian Woyanne troops and government soldiers cordoned off the vicinity of the palace," Jeesow said in a mobile-phone interview. "The roads are empty, the business centers are closed and the tension in Baidoa is high."
Sheikh Muktar Robow Abu Mansoor, al-Shabaab’s spokesman, didn’t answer his mobile phone when called for comment about the shelling of the palace.
Today’s attack is the latest in a series of assaults since the government and the opposition Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia agreed a cease-fire in June. The agreement called for Ethiopian Woyanne troops to withdraw from the country within four months and be replaced by a UN peacekeeping force.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, in a speech to commerate the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, said world leaders need to do more to contain the conflict in neighboring Somalia.
"The world, and the United Nations Security Council in particular, must produce a durable solution to the terrible violence and suffering that has devastated the people of Somalia," Odinga said.