Somalia President Survives al-Shabab Attack

Posted May 29th, 2012 at 1:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Somalia's President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has survived an assassination attempt by al-Shabab militants.

Gunmen opened fire on the president's convoy Tuesday in the Alamada area, about 15 kilometers west of the capital, Mogadishu.

A VOA reporter traveling with the convoy says the president was unharmed, but a bodyguard was killed and seven other people were wounded.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack. Authorities say they have arrested four suspects.

President Ahmed was returning from the Afgoye corridor, a key al-Shabab stronghold seized by Somali and African Union troops last week.

Also Tuesday, Kenyan warships fired on Port Kismayo, the militants' largest remaining stronghold in Somalia.

Kenyan military spokesman Cyrus Oguna told VOA that warships opened fire after being attacked by al-Shabab fighters on shore. Oguna said this is the first time Kenya's military has engaged in combat in Kismayo.

Witnesses told VOA that two warships began firing at Kismayo overnight Tuesday. The attack continued after sunrise, with one shell hitting a house and wounding a child.

Al-Shabab once controlled most of southern and central Somalia, but has steadily lost ground in an offensive by AU, Somali, Kenyan and Ethiopian forces.

Reports from southern Somalia on Monday indicated that al-Shabab leaders were mobilizing fighters in Kismayo and other locations.

Al-Shabab is fighting to overthrow Somalia's transitional government and impose a strict form of Islamic law.