Somali President Safe After Hotel Bombing

Posted September 12th, 2012 at 12:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Somalia's new president was unharmed Wednesday when suicide bombers attacked the Mogadishu hotel where he has been staying.

The visiting Kenyan foreign minister was speaking to reporters when a bomb blast was heard, followed by gunfire.

“… and the commitment of the people of Somalia (BLAST, FOLLOWED BY GUNFIRE ))

The news conference continued with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud taking the microphone and addressing reporters, even as a second blast was heard outside the Jazeera Palace Hotel.

The African Union force in Somalia, which is helping to protect the president, released a statement saying a total of three suicide bombers attacked the hotel. It says two were shot and blew up as they tried to enter the hotel compound, while a third was shot and killed without his explosives going off.

None of the people inside the hotel were injured. The AU force says one of its soldiers was killed, along with the three suicide bombers. Witnesses report civilian casualties as well.

Militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the bombings in a Twitter message about two hours after the attacks.

The Somali president and Kenyan delegation were later 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.