Al-Shabaab claim responsibility for mortar attack on Somalia Parliament
Al-Qaeda-linked group Al-Shabaab has said it attacked the Somali Parliament as lawmakers were setting dates for parliamentary ballots to choose speakers for the lower and upper houses.
Somalia's Parliament came under mortar fire on Monday as the country's newly elected lawmakers were meeting for only the second time since taking office. The attack was later claimed by the militant group Al-Shabaab.
Several people were reportedly injured but no lawmakers were harmed when several rounds of mortar shells landed near parliament in the heavily fortified compound in the capital Mogadishu, officials and a witness reported.
The attack occurred as lawmakers were setting dates for parliamentary ballots to choose speakers for the lower and upper houses - the next stage in a stuttering process to elect the nation's new president.
The new members of the Senate and the House of the People were sworn in on Thursday after elections held more than a year behind schedule.
The upper house will vote on April 26 to choose a speaker, with the lower house choosing its president the following day, officials announced.
As Monday's parliamentary session was being streamed live on television, several explosions were heard and lawmakers were told to stay inside.
"We have no details yet but these explosions were caused by mortar fire, the legislators were safe and unharmed inside the building when the incident occurred," a security officer who asked not to be named told AFP.
UNSOM condemned the attack
The UN mission in Somalia (UNSOM) issued a statement condemning the mortar attack.
It said we stand "firm with Somalis in their efforts to complete the electoral process and progress on national priorities."
No one-person, one-vote election in 50 years
Some parliamentary seats remain unfilled but sufficient lawmakers have been sworn in to move the election process forward.
So far, 297 have taken the oath of office, from a possible 329 members for both houses.
Somalia has not held a one-person, one-vote election in 50 years.
Instead, elections follow a complex indirect model, whereby state legislatures and clan delegates pick lawmakers for the national parliament, who in their turn choose the president.