A member of Somalia’s new parliament has been shot dead by unidentified gunmen, the speaker of parliament has said.
Saturday’s assassination of Mustaf Haji Mohamed marks the first attack against a member of the nation’s newly-appointed 275-member parliament.
“Mustaf Haji Mohamed was shot dead by merciless individuals after coming out of the mosque,” Mohamed Osman Jawaari, the speaker of the Somali parliament, said in a statement. “He was a loyal citizen.”
Jawaari said Mohamed “was killed by elements that are known for cruelty” an apparent reference to the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab fighters who are fighting the government.
A spokesperson for al-Shabab’s military wing claimed responsibility for Mohamed’s assassination late on Saturday.
“We killed legislator Mustaf … and we will kill all Somali MPs and officials one by one,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told the Reuters news agency.
“How many times had we warned Somalis against joining the infidel government … Let it be a good lesson for the rest,” he said.
‘Shot several times’
Mohamed, the father-in-law of Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the former president, was shot shortly after evening prayers in Mogadishu’s Waberi district.
“They shot him several times and escaped,” Mohamed Adan, a witness said, adding that the politician had died on his way to hospital.
Though Saturday marked the first death, the attack was the latest in a wave of similar attacks since the assembly elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president on September 10.
Al-Shabab has vowed to kill Somali government officials and to target the foreign governments that support the new administration.
Mohamud has said improving security is his priority, and such attacks underscore the scale of the challenge he faces in the Horn of Africa nation where regional administrations, fighters and pirates vie for power.
On Friday, gunmen shot dead a radio reporter, a day after three journalists were among 15 people killed in a suicide
bombing that targeted a popular restaurant.
Mohamud himself was targeted in a suicide attack last week.