Abdulahi Qayad Barre, a Somali member of parliament (MP), was shot dead in the capital of Mogadishu by al-Shabab militants, according to media reports. "Abdulahi Qayad Barre was shot dead, men killed him as he left his house to go to parliament," fellow MP Abdukarim Hajji told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Barre’s death marks the first killing of an MP this year, with five being assassinated in 2014. The al Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab group aims to overthrow Somalia’s government. The Islamist extremists say they will target politicians who allow foreign troops to be deployed in Somalia.
"Shabab commandoes shot and killed Barre, and all the so-called MPs are a legitimate target subject to be killed or captured, to face the justice of Allah," al-Shabab spokesperson Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Musab told AFP.
The attack comes amid tight security for legislators during a vote to decide whether a proposed cabinet should be approved after parliament rejected Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke’s first list of candidates.
The country is due to vote on a new constitution next year, but al-Shabab attacks remain frequent and deadly, undermining the country’s political process. The Somalian parliament is also deeply split by political infighting.
Previous al-Shabab attacks in the country have targeted key government officials and strategic sites in an attempt to sabotage the government and the African Union troops deployed in the country. They also control a significant amount of territory in the country, though they were forced to give up the capital to African Union soldiers in 2011.
African Union soldiers, acting together with local military, have forced the group out of their strongholds in central and southern Somalia, with several al-Shabab leaders also being killed by U.S.-led drone strikes. Despite this, al-Shabab continues to launch attacks across the country, Reuters reported.