Shebab threaten to kill Somali lawmakers
NAIROBI — Somalia's Al-Qaeda linked Shebab threatened Monday to kill all the country's new lawmakers, saying that an MP killed at the weekend in Mogadishu was just the first to be targeted.
"The successful elimination of Mustafa Haji Mohamed was the action of the mujahedeen who are committed to killing all MPs," a Shebab official who asked not to be named told AFP, saying the group would "kill one-by-one" all other lawmakers.
"The remaining 274 MPs are on the waiting list to die if they don't abandon the criminal organisation that was set up contrary to Islamic law," the official said, referring to the new parliament selected in August.
Parliament's election this month of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president and the end of Somalia's transitional institutions in August had sparked hopes of a new beginning for the country after two decades of war.
Some analysts had hoped that Hassan might succeed in bringing the hardline Islamist Shebab rebel group, which considered his predecessor Sharif Sheikh Ahmed a traitor, to the negotiating table.
But the new president survived an assassination bid on September 12, just two days after he was elected, when apparent suicide bomb attacks claimed by the Shebab rebels rocked a Mogadishu hotel, killing three soldiers.
Mustaf Haji Mohamed, the father-in-law of former president Sharif, was gunned down on Saturday after leaving a mosque in Mogadishu, the first lawmaker to be targeted since the new assembly came into being.
After more than two decades of anarchy and war, Mogadishu has been coming back to life since the Shebab left frontline fighting positions, with a boom in building and business.
The African Union force in Somalia has in recent months wrested back control of most of the Shebab strongholds but they have switched to guerrilla attacks -- including suicide bombings -- and remain a potent threat.
On Thursday, Shebab supporters launched a double suicide attack on an upmarket restaurant in the capital opened by Somalis from the diaspora, killing 18 people, including three journalists.
Another journalist, Hassan Yusuf Absuge of independent Radio Maanta, was gunned down in the Somali capital on Friday. No group has yet claimed responsibility for his murder.
Press rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders has called 2012 the deadliest year on record for Somali journalists with 13 dead so far, surpassing 2009 when nine died.
The latest attacks come as the Shebab face growing pressure on the last major city they hold, the southern port of Kismayo. The key Shebab-held towns of Afgoye, Baidoa and the port of Marka have all fallen in recent months.