Somalia’s presidential palace in the capital Mogadishu has been attack by a huge car bomb.
The bomb has blown a hole in the wall of the presidential palace, followed by a fierce gun battle inside, officials say.
It is not clear how many people died in the attack.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has told the UN envoy to Somalia he was not harmed, envoy Nick Kay has tweeted.
The al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabab has said it carried out the attack, which it said was still ongoing.
This is the first time that al-Shabab fighters have entered the presidential palace, known as Villa Somalia.
The heavily guarded complex is home to the president, prime minister, speaker of parliament, other ministers and a mosque, which was hit during the attack.
Villa Somalia, a heavily guarded complex, is home to the president, prime minister, speaker of parliament, other ministers and a mosque
Some of the attackers were wearing suicide vests, police sources have said.
Senior police officer Abdikadir Ahmed told the Reuters news agency fighting was underway in the house of a military commander within the presidential compound, near the palace.
“The car bomb hit and exploded and other al-Shabab cars with armed men drove inside the palace, and heavy fighting is still going on,” he said.
Security Minister Abdi Karim Hussein said that some of the attackers had been killed and others captured. He also said all of the country’s leaders were safe.
Al-Shabab military spokesman Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Musab said militants were still in control of some buildings inside the presidential compound.
“Our commandos have attacked the so-called presidential palace in order to kill or arrest those who are inside,” he told the AFP news agency.
Nick Kay said the attack on Villa Somalia had “failed”.
“Sadly some lives lost. I condemn strongly this terrorism,” he said.
Al-Shabab was driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 but it still controls many smaller towns and rural areas of the country.
Some 22,000 African Union troops are helping the government battle al-Shabab
At least eight people have been killed after two car bombs have exploded outside Jazeera hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu.
The blasts were at the Jazeera hotel close to Mogadishu’s airport, which is popular with Somali politicians.
Reports say the blasts were followed by exchanges of fire between security forces and the attackers.
The Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabab, who was driven out of Mogadishu in 2011, have said they carried out the attack.
At least eight people have been killed after two car bombs have exploded outside Jazeera hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu
The al-Qaeda-linked group still controls many southern and central areas of the country and has continued to launch attacks on the capital.
Four members of the security services were among the dead, including one senior officer, the deputy interior minister said.
Police officer Mohamed Warsame told the AFP agency that the second bomb went off as security services were trying to help the victims of the first blast.
The Jazeera hotel was also targeted in December 2012, when President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was staying there. At least seven people die in that attack.
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Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a top Islamist in Somalia, has arrived in the capital Mogadishu amid reports of a split in the al-Shabab group.
He was flown from the northern town of Adado, escorted by government security forces, but it is unclear whether he has surrendered or defected.
The UN says he gave himself up to government allies after infighting but clan elders deny this.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys is considered a terrorist by the UN and the United States.
Regarded as the elder statesman of Somali Islamists, he has been on a US list of people “linked to terrorism” since shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
A new UN-backed government in Mogadishu is trying to regain control of the country from al-Shabab after more than 20 years of conflict.
Supported by some 18,000 African Union soldiers, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s administration is the first in more than two decades to be recognized by the US and the International Monetary Fund.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a top Islamist in Somalia, has arrived in the capital Mogadishu amid reports of a split in the al-Shabab group
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys was flown by plane from Adado, a town about 310 miles north of the capital.
“If he renounces violence, then we can start the discussion about the options available,” government spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman told Reuters news agency, without describing the options.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys left al-Shabab territory after factions within the al-Qaeda linked group clashed last week – the first deadly infighting since it launched an insurgency in 2006.
Al-Shabab, which means “The Youth”, is fighting to create an Islamic state in Somalia – and despite being pushed out of key cities in the past two years still remains in control of smaller towns and large swathes of the countryside.
It was as a radical offshoot of the now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts, which was led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and for much of that year controlled Mogadishu and many southern and central areas.
The exact cause of the al-Shabab split is not known, but there has been a long-running internal power struggle between its leader Ahmed Abdi Godane and those seen as more moderate who oppose links with al-Qaeda, analysts say.
There are conflicting reports about the fate of the second-in-command – Ibrahim Afghan, the al-Shabab founder – following last week’s fighting.
Initially, sources said he had been captured and was in al-Shabab detention; subsequent reports in local media say he has been executed.
Members of Somalia’s Olympic committee and Football Federation heads are among seven people killed in a suicide blast at Mogadishu’s national theater re-opening ceremony.
Somali PM Abdiweli Mohamed Ali was also present when the attacker struck the newly re-opened national theatre, but he said he was unhurt.
Al-Shabab militants say they carried out the bombing.
The theatre closed in the early 1990s as Somalia descended into civil war and was only reopened last month, amid a new period of relative optimism.
Seven people have been killed in a suicide blast at Mogadishu’s national theater re-opening ceremony
The President of the Somali Olympic Committee, Aden Yabarow Wiish, and the Somali Football Federation chief, Said Mohamed Nur, were among a group of dignitaries who had gathered to mark the first anniversary of the launch of Somalia’s national television station.
According to Somali Service, three Somali television journalists were also wounded in the blast.
Eyewitnesses said the attacker was a woman.
Al-Shabab militants who had controlled large parts of the country, including Mogadishu, were pushed out of the city by troops from the African Union last year.
Since then, there has been a period of relative quiet, with sporting activity resuming, restaurants opening, and the re-opening of the National Theatre.
But al-Shabab has continued to attack the capital with bombs and mortars.