Somali-Canadian peace activist shot dead in Mogadishu

Almaas Elman Ali killed by 'stray bullet' in Somali capital's heavily fortified airport compound, local official says.

    Ali came from a leading family of peace campaigners, including her father, Elman Ali Ahmed [Twitter: @AlmaasElman]
    Ali came from a leading family of peace campaigners, including her father, Elman Ali Ahmed [Twitter: @AlmaasElman]

    A prominent rights activist has been shot dead in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, with security officials suggesting she was hit by a stray bullet.

    Almaas Elman Ali, who came from a leading family of peace campaigners, was travelling by car inside the heavily fortified airport compound when she was hit on Wednesday.

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    "She was riding in a car along a road inside the airport," AFP news agency quoted Mohamed Omar, a Somali security official, as saying. "A stray bullet hit her, and she died within a few minutes."

    It was not immediately clear who was responsible for Ali's killing.

    Brigadier General Zakia Hussein, the deputy commissioner of the Somali Police Force, said investigations into the incident were continuing, the New York Times reported.

    "There was not any gunfire in the airport, or in nearby areas before the incident occurred," Omar said.

    The sprawling airport complex includes embassies and the headquarters of the African Union (AU) soldiers.

    Ali, who had dual Somali and Canadian citizen, is believed to have been attending a meeting for the Elman Peace centre, founded in 1990 by her father, Elman Ali Ahmed.

    Ahmed's wife and daughters - including Almaas - fled to Canada as the civil war in the country worsened. He stayed in Somalia and in 1996 was killed in Mogadishu by unknown gunmen.

    The rest of the family had returned to Somalia in recent years to help run the peace centre working to end the violence.

    Their work includes a programme called Drop the Gun, Pick Up the Pen, that encourages child soldiers conscripted by militia gunmen to return to peace.

    Ali's sister, youth activist Ilwad Elmam, was among those shortlisted to win the Nobel Peace Prize this year by The Peace Research Institute Oslo.

    Although Somalia is slowly rebuilding after years of devastating conflict, it suffers regular bombings and assaults claimed by rebel group al-Shabab.

    They were driven out of Mogadishu by government forces backed by 20,000 AU peacekeepers in 2011.

    But they still carry out attacks including suicide bombings against government and international targets.

    SOURCE: News agencies