MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Gunmen from Somali Islamist group al Shabaab killed a regional lawmaker on Saturday after he had taken his wife to hospital in the capital Mogadishu, the group and officials said.
Aden Haji Hussein, a legislator from the semi-autonomous Puntland region, was sprayed with bullets when he returned to his parked car outside the hospital, witnesses said. The gunmen were in a minibus that blocked his way.
Al Shabaab, which wants to impose its strict interpretation of Islamic law, often targets officials and politicians.
On Tuesday al Shabaab militants stormed a government building housing two ministries in the heart of Mogadishu, killing at least 10 people.
“Al Shabaab fighters killed the lawmaker in Hodan district (of Mogadishu) and disappeared with their car,” Major Ibrahim Ali, a police officer, told Reuters, adding that police were now searching for the vehicle and the gunmen.
Abdullah Hashi, assistant interior minister for Puntland region, which lies north of Mogadishu, confirmed the shooting.
Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s spokesman for military affairs, said it carried out the attack. “We shall continue killing the enemies,” he told Reuters by telephone.
He also said the group had launched a raid on a police station in Bosasso, capital of Puntland, on Friday night.
Witnesses from the city confirmed the raid.
Al Shabaab has focused its attacks on Mogadishu, but Puntland has increasingly become a target as the group has been driven out of traditional strongholds further south by a military operation of African peacekeepers and Somali troops.
The group, which once controlled Mogadishu and swathes of territory, was driven out of the capital in 2011 and has been losing ground since then. But it still launches frequent hit-and-run attacks and has struck across the border in Kenya.
This month, it claimed responsibility for an attack on a university in northeast Kenya that left 148 people dead.
Reporting By Abdiqani Hassan and Feisal Omar in Bosasso and Abdi Sheikh in Mogadishu; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Gareth Jones