NAIROBI: Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabab threatened yesterday to kill Somalia’s all the 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 mujahideen who are committed to killing all MPs,” according to a Al-Shabab official, who said, the group would kill all other lawmakers “one-by-one”.
“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 Al-Shabab rebel group, which considered his predecessor Sharif Sheikh Ahmed a traitor, to the negotiating table.
But the new president survived an assassination bid on Sept. 12, just two days after he was elected, when apparent suicide bomb attacks claimed by the Al-Shabab rebels rocked a Mogadishu hotel, killing three soldiers.
Mustafa Haji, 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 Al-Shabab left frontline fighting positions, with a boom in building and business.
Al-Al-Shabab has been fighting the Somali government for nearly five years. Africa Union forces pushed al-Shabab out of Mogadishu in Aug. 2011 but the militants have continued to carry out suicide attacks in the capital. Government figures in Somalia are frequently targeted for death.
Last Thursday, Al-Shabab 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 a day later. 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.
Meanwhile, the U.N.’s representative to Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, on Sunday condemned the killing of the Somali member of parliament, and called it a cowardly attack.