MOGADISHU, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Somali Minister for National Security Abdelhakim Guled said the government forces thwarted an attack against the presidential palace in the capital Mogadishu on Friday.
A carbomb explosion followed by heavy gunfire hit near the northern gate of the presidential palace in the Somali capital Mogadishu.
Guled said the government forces backed by African Union peacekeepers captured several Al-Shabaab fighters involved in the attack.
"They launched a desperate attack on the presidential palace but the attack was thwarted by our forces who captured some of the attackers alive," state radio quoted Guled as saying.
The carbomb went off at one of the gates of the presidential residence in Mogadishu before several heavily armed gunmen tried to storm it. The attackers were confronted by presidential guards, police officer Mohamoud Yonis told Xinhua.
"Firefight broke out between the guards and the gunmen who were quickly neutralized by our forces," Yonis said, without disclosing casualties.
UN envoy in Somalia Nicolas Kay said in a twitter post that Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was unharmed, while condemning the attack on the Presidential Palace known as Villa Somalia.
"President just called me to say he's unharmed. Attack on Villa Somalia had failed. I condemn strongly this terrorism," Kay tweeted.
Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group linked to Al-Qaida, has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Villa Somalia. The group is fighting the Somali government and African Union peacekeeping troops in the Horn of Africa country.
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