Africa

Somali MP Yusuf Dirir killed in Mogadishu attack

File photo of al-Shabab fighters, February 2011 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Fighters from al-Shabab have killed government officials in similar attacks in the past

A Somali member of parliament has been shot dead in Mogadishu in an attack by suspected Islamist militants.

Security officials said that Yusuf Dirir was killed when gunmen opened fire on his car.

Three workers from the Transport Ministry also died in a separate drive-by shooting on Saturday.

The attacks in the capital city came as a number of people were killed in clashes between al-Shabab gunmen and government troops in southern Somalia.

Police said that Mr Dirir had been killed when gunmen in a minibus blocked his route and sprayed the car with bullets.

"He was a man that has long served his country and wanted to see a united Somalia," said speaker of parliament Mohamed Osman Jawari.

Local media said that another MP had also been wounded in the incident and was in hospital.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the killings are the latest in a string of assassinations of politicians in the war-torn country.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Al-Shabab, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, has waged a series of attacks to try to overthrow the government

Islamist militants from the al-Shabab movement shot dead Abdullahi Qayad Barre near the presidential palace in February by opening fire on his car.

At least five MPs were murdered last year and the group has said that it will continue to target MPs.

In another development, al-Shabab clashed with government troops early on Saturday in Awdigle district and Mubarak village, south of Mogadishu.

At least 17 people have reportedly been killed but the death toll has not been confirmed.

"We did not sleep last night because they exchanged shells and gunfire throughout the night," resident Afrah Hussein told Reuters news agency.

Al-Shabab, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, was pushed out of Somalia's capital by African peacekeeping forces in 2011.

But since then, the group has carried out a series of gun and grenade attacks to try to overthrow the government and impose its strict version of Sharia law.

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