Somali President's Residence Attacked

Wire Report | 9/18/2012, 10:04 a.m.

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Three suicide bombers recdently attacked the temporary residence of the new president of Somalia as he was giving a news conference, killing an African Union soldier but failing to assassinate any political leaders, witnesses and officials said.

Hassan Sheik Mohamud was elected on Sept. 10.

The Somali president, Hassan Sheik Mohamud, had only just been elected to his post by the newly created Parliament on Sept. 10, taking the helm of a fledgling government that is supposed to represent a tangible step toward permanent governance in a country that has been without it for more than 20 years.

Two of the suicide bombers struck, one near the gate and one at the back of the Jazeera Hotel near the airport as the president was giving a briefing for the news media with the visiting Kenyan foreign minister, Samson K. Ongeri.

Another attacker was shot as he tried to scale the walls of the compound, according to a statement from the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

The attack did not interrupt the news conference and the president continued his speech. "This is the Mogadishu we are trying to change," he said.

Mr. Mohamud was moved to the presidential palace. A statement from his office said that he called the attacks an unsuccessful attempt to demoralize the Somali people. "What happened today, and any other similar attempt, will not divert our focus and our promise," the statement said.

The attack stood in sharp contrast to the welcoming cheers Somalis have offered the new president.

"I was covered with dust as I was walking on the street near the hotel, and I saw several people lying on the ground," said Mohamed Farah, who was passing by. "This is a shocking incident reminding us of our long-gone days, but we are expecting brighter future now."