New Somali President Safe After Explosions

Posted September 12th, 2012 at 8:20 am (UTC-5)
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Somalia's new president is safe after a bomb attack at the Mogadishu hotel where he was meeting with Kenyan officials.

VOA correspondent Gabe Joselow, who was at the site of the blast, says two bombs detonated outside the Jazeera Hotel Wednesday as President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Kenyan Foreign Minister Samson Ongeri spoke to reporters inside.

Joselow says the dignitaries in the hotel were unharmed.

VOA's Somali Service reports that at least five people outside were killed, including African Union troops who were guarding the hotel.

A Somali service reporter said the first bomb was a suicide blast at the gate to the hotel complex, and the second was a car bomb. She also says AU troops opened fire on several suspected attackers who tried to get inside the hotel.

The president and Kenyan delegation were escorted out of the hotel to an undisclosed location.

Mr. Mohamud was elected president by Somalia's parliament on Monday. The election was the final step of a U.N.-backed plan to bring a stable central government to Somalia.

The Horn of Africa country has endured two decades of chaos and conflict since the last stable government collapsed in 1991.

Last month, Somali leaders adopted a new constitution and installed a new federal parliament and speaker.

In a statement late Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton congratulated the Somali people for their steps toward a new government. She said the U.S. remains committed to helping the new government strengthen democratic institutions, and improve stability and security.