23 July 2014

Somalia: Shabab Claims Assassination of MP Warsame

Photo: Dalsan Radio
Saado Ali Warsame

A member of Somalia's parliament famous for the political and patriotic songs she sang for decades has been assassinated in Mogadishu. The Islamist group al Shabab has claimed responsibility.

The assailants pulled up alongside a car transporting Saado Ali Warsame, a member of parliament and popular singer-songwriter of Somali folk music, and shot her and her driver dead, police Captain Mohamed Hussein said on Wednesday. The extremist group al Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack

Mohamed Ali, a fellow lawmaker, described Warsame as "courageous and patriotic" and called her the victim of terrorists who "want to cripple the country."

In the 1970s, Warsame's songs took on the themes of political and social justice in opposition to the hard-line rule of the dictator Siad Barre, whose 1991 ouster helped trigger an all-out civil war. Warsame, one of fewer than 30 women in Somalia's 275-seat parliament, was also the first female legislator killed by al Shabab, which has assassinated four lawmakers so far in 2014, including Ahmed Mahamud Hayd in May.

Al Shabab began its most recent onslaught at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on June 28, killing Warsame and another legislator so far, along with scores of civilians and government troops. Linked to al Qaeda, Shabab has long carried out a deadly campaign of suicide bombings and shootings against civilians, government officials, African Union peacekeepers and UN staff. Al Shabab has also launched attacks across the border in Kenya.

The group has vowed to kill members of parliament "one by one." Earlier this month, al Shabab launched an assault on the presidential palace using similar tactics to those used in an attack on the same compound in February. In May, al Shabab also launched an attack against the national parliament.

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