15 April 2009

Somalia: New Lawmaker Fatally Shot in Mogadishu

A member of Somalia's newly expanded parliament was shot and killed Wednesday in the country's capital Mogadishu, Radio Garowe reports.

MP Abdullahi Isse Abtidon, who joined the Somali parliament in January, died at the scene after a group of suspected insurgents shot him, parliament officials said.

The Somali parliament's second Deputy Speaker, Mr. Osman Elmi Boqorre, confirmed the death and sent condolences to the family of the victim.

It is the first time a Somali MP was killed in Mogadishu since the Transitional Federal Parliament was doubled to 550 MPs to include an Islamist-led opposition faction last January.

Two Somali lawmakers were wounded in Mogadishu in separate incidents this month alone. In 2008, two lawmakers were gunned down in the southwestern town of Baidoa, where the parliament was then based.

No group has claimed responsibility for killing MP Abtidon yet, but insurgents issued death threats to government officials and wounded Interior Minister Sheikh Abdulkadir Ali Omar last month.

Islamist rebels have rejected the new Government of National Unity, led by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, former head of Somalia's Islamic Courts movement. The rebels have demanded the withdrawal of African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM), who protect government facilities in Mogadishu.

The Islamic Courts splintered into several factions in 2007, with two groups in particular - Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam - calling for a new war against President Sheikh Sharif's interim government.

The newly expanded government, which has a two-year mandate, is the 15th attempt to restore national order since civil war erupted in 1991.

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