May 6, 2015 / 9:34 AM / 3 years ago

Somali Islamists kill government official, bomb AU convoy

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Al Shabaab Islamist militants shot dead a government official in Mogadishu on Wednesday and, in a separate attack, bombed an African Union troop convoy outside the Somali capital, police and a spokesman for the group said.

Abdifatah Barre, the deputy district commissioner of Mogadishu’s Wadajir district, was shot dead in his car.

“Gunmen opened fire on the car of the deputy district commissioner this morning. The official died and the gunmen escaped,” Major Ibrahim Hussein, a police officer, told Reuters.

Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab, which carries out attacks frequently in Somalia and in neighboring countries, claimed responsibility.

The group wants to impose its strict interpretation of Islamic law in the region and overthrow the Somali government, which is backed by Western donors and African peacekeepers.

“We killed the deputy district commissioner and we shall continue killing the enemies. This is part of our operation in Mogadishu,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, its military operations spokesman, told Reuters.

Also on Wednesday, an al Shabaab improvised explosive device damaged an armored vehicle in a convoy of African Union peacekeeping vehicles, Colonel Mohamed Abdullahi, a police officer, and the group said.

The AU convoy was passing through Elasha town about 16 km (10 miles) north west of Mogadishu when the bomb exploded.

Police and residents said AU troops had surrounded the area.

Details about casualties were not immediately available, but al Shabaab said there were many. It is usually hard to verify casualty numbers given by the group.

Late on Monday, gunmen from the group stormed a police station in the country’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland and killed three policemen.

Editing by George Obulutsa and Louise Ireland

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