MOGADISHU, Apr 22 – Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab said they had assassinated a lawmaker on Tuesday, the second such killing in 24 hours and the latest in a series of attacks in the war-ravaged capital of Mogadishu.
Abdiaziz Isak was shot “several times and he died instantly,” police officer Mohamed Dalane said, close to where the politician was killed in the city’s Madina district.
On Monday, a member of parliament was killed and another wounded in a car bombing also claimed by the Islamists, who have threatened to assassinate all lawmakers in the internationally-backed government.
“All of them are targets of the mujahedeen fighters, and they will be killed, one by one,” Shabaab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab told AFP.
“We are responsible for the killing of the non-believer MP, who was serving the interest of foreigners,” Musab continued, adding it was “a message to other politicians in the so-called government of Somalia.”
The gunmen escaped after the killing on Tuesday, witnesses and police said.
“I saw two young men running after several gunshots, one of them was carrying a pistol, the other one followed him,” said witness Nure Sheikh Ali.
The attacks come as the government holds the third and final day of a security conference hoping to tackle continued attacks by the Shabaab.
Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed condemned the “horrific” killing.
“The use of terror will not derail us from the progress made in securing Somalia, it only serves to unite and strengthen our resolve to defeat all forms of terrorism and violence,” Ahmed said in a statement.
“Taking a human life is abhorrent and these terrorists have destroyed an innocent family.”
– Assassinations ‘one-by-one’ –
The Shabaab have been driven out of fixed positions in Somalia’s major towns by a UN-mandated African Union force, but still regularly launch attacks that include bombings and guerrilla-style raids.
The Shabaab also said they carried out Monday’s attack, which killed MP Isak Mohamed and wounded his colleague.
“The mujahedeen fighters targeted and killed one of those who claimed to be ‘legislators’ and injured another one,” Abu Musab said. “Those apostates were helping the infidels.”
Recent Shabaab attacks have targeted key areas of government or the security forces, in an apparent bid to discredit claims by the authorities that they are winning the war against the Islamist fighters.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, speaking as he opened the security conference, claimed that the “culture of lawlessness that has plagued Somalia for the last 23 years is coming to an end.”
In February, Shabaab militants carried out a major attack against the heavily fortified presidential palace, killing officials and guards in heavy gun battles. READ: Presidential palace in Somalia hit by major car bomb, gun attack.
AU troops fighting alongside Somali government forces launched a fresh offensive last month against Shabaab bases.
Although they seized a series of towns, the insurgents are thought to have fled in advance and suffered few casualties.