MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Two lawmakers from Somalia’s semi-autonomous Hirshabelle state were killed on Tuesday along with several of their bodyguards in an ambush near the Somali capital Mogadishu claimed by militant Islamist group al Shabaab.
Major Abdullahi Abdirahman, a Somali army officer, said the lawmakers had been riding in a small car escorted by 10 soldiers in a military pickup truck when the ambush took place in the village of Elka Gelow some 45 km (28 miles) north of Mogadishu.
“The lawmakers, Sheikh Dahir and Ismail Mumin, died in the fighting. Several of their bodyguards were also killed. Some bodyguards escaped into the jungle and are still missing,” Abdirahman told Reuters.
However, a local resident said no one riding in the two vehicles had survived the ambush.
“Al Shabaab hit the two cars with rocket-propelled grenades and the two lawmakers and their 10 bodyguards were all killed,” the resident, Ali Ibrahim, said.
Al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab is trying to topple Somalia’s Western-backed government and establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.
The group also aims to drive the Africa Union-mandated peace keeping force AMISOM from Somalia.
Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, told Reuters they had carried out the ambush and said they had killed all the occupants of the two vehicles.
Last month the group killed another lawmaker from Hirshabelle state, also in an attack outside Mogadishu.
Reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar; writing by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Gareth Jones