Al Shabaab rebels claim killing of Somalia minister

MOGADISHU Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:03am EDT

A car burns outside Hotel Madina during a protest in support of Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, in the streets of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, June 10, 2011. Two boys were shot dead in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Friday during a second day of protests against a deal to extend the mandates of the country's president and parliament, residents said. REUTERS/Feisal Omar (SOMALIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS)

A car burns outside Hotel Madina during a protest in support of Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, in the streets of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, June 10, 2011. Two boys were shot dead in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Friday during a second day of protests against a deal to extend the mandates of the country's president and parliament, residents said.

Credit: Reuters/Feisal Omar (SOMALIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS)

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia's Al Shabaab rebels said on Saturday they were behind the killing of Interior Minister Abdi Shakur Sheikh Hassan after they planted a bomb under his bed at his house in the capital Mogadishu.

An Islamist forum website carried a message saying Al Shabaab movement had taken responsibility for the killing.

"By the grace of God Almighty, the interior minister of the apostate government and its national security (interior) minister was killed in the afternoon on Friday...a bomb exploded planted by the mujahideen inside the home, specifically under his bed. After the blast he was taken to hospital but nothing was left, only a rotten corpse," the message said.

Abdi Shaur, the minister's driver, had said on Friday that he believed the minister was killed by a female suicide bomber, thought to be his cousin.

The attack, which caused no other casualties, was seen by analysts as a retaliatory hit by al Shabaab insurgents after a sustained government push against them, in which the minister was a key figure.

Police said they had detained two suspects from the minister's house, including a brother of the suspected suicide bomber.

Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia have witnesses two days of protests, with demonstrators railing against a deal to extend the mandates of the president and parliament.

Hundreds of supporters of the prime minister, who must resign under the terms of the deal, marched through the city's rubble-strewn streets chanting support for him.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

First clan warlords and now al Shabaab Islamist insurgents ensured the government controls little territory outside parts of the capital Mogadishu.

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