November 16, 2014 / 5:23 PM / 4 years ago

Somalia's al Shabaab says fires at presidential compound

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia’s al Shabaab militants said they fired mortar bombs at the presidential palace in Mogadishu on Sunday, but government and police spokesmen said none had landed inside the compound.

The Islamist militants attacked the president’s compound on July 8 but were repulsed by security forces. The president was not there at the time. It was not clear if the president was at the palace at the time of Sunday’s attack.

“We have fired several mortar rounds on the presidential palace, and we will give details later,” Abu Musab, the spokesman for al Shabaab’s military operations, told Reuters.

“We targeted the palace because it is the government’s headquarters and all top officials are there,” he said.

Officials said the mortars caused no damage.

“No single mortar landed on the palace,” government spokesman Ridwan Haji told Reuters.

A police captain who only gave his name as Ali said the mortars landed outside the presidential palace.

African Union forces along with the Somali army launched a new offensive this year against al Shabaab, which is fighting to impose its harsh interpretation of Islamic law on Somalia.

Driven out of Mogadishu in 2011, al Shabaab has lost control of several towns in the latest offensive, but officials say the Islamists still control tracts of countryside and settlements from where they have continued their guerrilla-style campaign.

Reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar; writing by James Macharia; editing by Mark Trevelyan and David Clarke

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