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Somalia: UN condemns attack on hotel during new president’s press conference

12 September 2012 – The United Nations envoy to Somalia has strongly condemned today’s attack on a hotel in the capital, Mogadishu, where the country’s new President was giving a press conference and which resulted in one death and several injuries.

Initial reports indicate that three suicide bombers dressed in Somali uniform attempted to enter the Jazeera Hotel, which reportedly also serves as the President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s temporary residence, while he was speaking to the media and meeting with the Kenyan Foreign Minister, Samuel Ongeri.

The insurgents were intercepted by security forces and were killed before they were able to enter the hotel, according to a news release issued by the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS). A number of Somali security personnel were injured in the attack, and one soldier serving with the UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) was killed and three more wounded.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNPOS, Augustine P. Mahiga, noted that this “atrocious” attack comes only two days after a milestone vote where the Somali Parliament overwhelmingly and transparently elected Mr. Mohamud as President.

“I am relieved that the President and the Kenyan Foreign Minister are unharmed and deeply saddened by the deplorable loss of life,” he stated.

The President was selected by the parliament on Monday, marking the culmination of a series of landmark steps to bring an end to the country’s eight-year political transition. Those other steps, over recent weeks, included the adoption of Somalia’s provisional constitution, the establishment of the New Federal Parliament and the appointment of that body’s Speaker.

Mr. Mahiga extended his condolences to the families of the victims of today’s attack and paid tribute to AMISOM and Somali security forces for their “constant courage and determination” in safeguarding the political process.

“Somalia has achieved tremendous progress over the last few months. Such attempts to push the country back into chaos and violence will not deter the Somali people’s determination to move forward.”

In a related development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today spoke by telephone, prior to the attack, with the new President to congratulate him on his selection.

Mr. Ban noted that Somalis still face great challenges and assured the new leader and the Somali people of the UN’s support in building a new and peaceful country, according to the Secretary-General’s spokesperson.

For several years until last year, most of Mogadishu was riven by a fluid frontline dividing the two sides – Al Shabaab fighters and Government troops, with the latter supported by AMISOM forces. Displaced by fighting and drought elsewhere in the country, some 184,000 people have sought humanitarian relief in the city.

Since the Al Shabaab withdrawal from the capital's central parts in August last year, the frontlines have been pushed back to the city's surrounding area. However, the use of roadside bombs, grenades and suicide bombers still take place, as do armed clashes.

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