Shebab militants kill Somali lawmaker
AFP, , Saturday 9 May 2015

Islamic militants have claimed responsibility for the assassination of a member of parliament on Friday in the semi-autonomous northern Somalia state of Puntland.

Lawmaker Said Hussein Nur was shot dead as he left a mosque after evening prayers.

"The Mujahedeen fighters got rid of an apostate member in the Puntland parliament in northern Galkayo," said a statement from Al-Shebab, Somalia's Al-Qaeda aligned militants.

"Such attacks will continue", said the statement, posted on a Shebab website.

Puntland's vice president, Abdihakin Abdulahi Haji, confirmed the attack.

"A member of the Puntland parliament was assassinated in Galkayo and even though we do not have details about the ongoing investigations, we suspect that the violent elements are responsible for the killing," Haji told reporters, referring to the Shebab.

Witnesses in northern Galkayo town described the attack by heavily armed gunmen outside a mosque on Friday evening.

"They opened fire and killed the lawmaker who had come out of the mosque together with his security guard," said Abdulahi Muse, who witnessed the attack.

"The gunmen also hurled a hand grenade into a crowd of people who tried to chase the killers and several people were wounded," he said.

According to officials, the MP addressed a gathering a few hours before he was shot dead during which he called on Galkayo residents to stand against violence.

Nur is the second Puntland lawmaker to be shot dead in recent weeks as Shebab continues its campaign of suicide attacks and assassinations targeting government figures.

Under pressure from African Union and Somali soldiers on the ground and American drones overhead, Shebab has retreated from most of Somalia's towns since mid-2012 and switched to an asymmetric type of warfare.

Somali government and United Nations officials say that the group has split, moving northwards into Puntland, and southwards into the Jubba valley.

Last month Shebab claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a UN minibus in the Puntland town of Garowe that left seven people dead, including four foreign aid workers from the children's agency UNICEF.