MOGADISHU, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Twelve people were killed on Friday in a attack by militant group Al-Shabaab against Somalia's presidential palace in Mogadishu, a government minister said.
"Nine attackers including two suicide bombers were killed when they tried to force their way into the presidential palace. Three were killed on the government side, including two officials and a soldier," Minister for National Security Abdelkarim Hussein Guled told reporters here.
A car bomb went off outside the gate of the presidential palace before a group of Al-Shabaab fighters tried to storm the building.
Guled said the attack was aimed to cause maximum damage but was foiled by local troops and African Union peacekeepers.
The two officials killed in the attack were Mohamud Hersi Abdulle, the permanent secretary of the Somali prime minister, and Nur Shirbow, a former senior intelligence commander.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, who was unharmed in the attack, condemned the attack as "an act of terrorism."
"An act of terrorism, however unspeakable, does not hide the truth that this is a marginal group on the brink of extinction. The military campaign we are fighting with brave Somali and AMISOM soldiers will eliminate our enemies," the president said.
The president, who was at the presidential palace at the time of the attack, warned against overestimating "the strength of the terrorists."
UN Somalia envoy Nicholas Kay condemned the assault on the Somali presidency as "another desperate and criminal act" which "does nothing but harm to the people of Somalia."
"The UN and the international community remain steadfast in their determination to see a new Somalia rise, and continue to support Somalia in its quest to stabilize and rebuild institutions, " Kay added.
Head of the African Union Somalia mission (AMISOM) Mahamat Saleh Annadif condemned the attack on the presidential Palace as "cowardly."
"I commend the actions of the brave security forces who fought off the attackers, hell-bent on shedding the blood of innocent Somalis. The attack was against the Somali people, their institutions and their religion," Annadif said.