MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A car bomb killed a Somali lawmaker allied to the president, an official said on Monday, in an attack claimed by the al Shabaab militant group that is fighting the Western-backed government.
The insurgents, who want to implement their strict interpretation of sharia (Islamic law) across Somalia, have been under increased pressure since African Union troops and Western-backed government soldiers drove them out of the capital Mogadishu last year.
Kenyan and Ethiopian troops have also attacked them in areas they control in the south and center of the lawless Horn of Africa country. The militants have, however, still managed to launch large-scale attacks in Mogadishu.
"The MP himself was driving the car. A bomb had been placed in his car without his awareness," deputy Mogadishu Mayor Warsame Mohamed told reporters.
"The MP died. His flesh and documents are in the car," said Mohamed, referring to Mohamud Abdi Ibrahim, who was also a former minister for humanitarian affairs and trade.
Al Shabaab claimed the attack shortly afterwards.
"We targeted the MP and killed him with an assassination bomb," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, spokesman for al Shabaab's military operations, said. "We managed to place a bomb in his car. Government officials and those who work with them are infidels."
Mohamud was known to be close to President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. They belonged to the alliance that entered the government in 2009 through a power-sharing deal in Djibouti.
Reporting by Feisal Omar, Omar Faruk and Abdi Sheikh in Mogadishu; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Mark Heinrich