3 July 2014

Somalia: Lawmaker Killed in Mogadishu Gun Attack

A Somali lawmaker has been shot dead in Mogadishu. Al-Qaeda-linked militant group al Shebab, which has promised to step up attacks during the month of Ramadan, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The murder of Ahmed Mohamud Hayd and his bodyguard is the latest in a surge of attacks in the African country.

Another Somali lawmaker and a parliamentary secretary were also wounded in the attack.

Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed has condemned the attack, calling it a "criminal act."

Gunmen in a car opened fire on the lawmakers on Thursday as they left a hotel in the capital's heavily-policed port district.

"They were going to attend a parliament session when they came under attack," Abdi Bare Yusuf, a member of parliament, told reporters.

Militant group al Shebab has vowed to intensify attacks during Islam's holy month of Ramadan.

"This was a targeted assassination. We also wounded another MP and two bodyguards," al Shebab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab told the AFP news agency.

"We will continue to hunt other lawmakers if they do not leave the apostate organization," Abu Musab added, alluding to the western-backed government in Mogadishu.

Al Shebab fighters fled the capital three years ago and have since lost control of most big Somali towns to a 22,000-strong UN-backed African Union force, fighting alongside government troops. The Islamists, however, still holds sway in vast swathes of the country's rural hinterland from where they regularly launch guerrilla raids.

Of late, al Shebab has increased attacks on government officials and security forces in a bid to discredit claims by the authorities that they are winning the war in Somalia.

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