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Somali lawmaker shot dead in Mogadishu

A group of armed men shot and killed a lawmaker as he left a mosque in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Sunday. Kalif Jire Warfa was shot in the head and shoulder and was killed instantly, security sources said.


AFP - Armed men shot and killed a Somali lawmaker in Mogadishu on Sunday, officials and witnesses said, in the latest violence to hit Somalia's war-ravaged capital.

"Two gunmen shot a legislator near his hotel tonight, they shot him in the head and shoulder and he died instantly," Somali security official Liban Mohamed told AFP.

Witnesses said Kalif Jire Warfa was gunned down at around 7:30 pm (1630 GMT).

"He left Maruwas mosque when they shot him dead," witness Idris Yusuf said. "The killers escaped before police arrived at the scene."

There has been a surge in attacks in Somalia's war-ravaged capital since the African Union troops backing the government on Thursday captured positions previously held by the hardline Shebab movement.

Shebab Islamists have vowed to topple the Western backed transitional government and drive out the African Union force in Somalia (AMISOM) troops supporting it. Most lawmakers travel in Mogadishu under escort.

The Al-Qaeda inspired Shebab have been losing ground in the capital in recent months however as pro-government troops and AMISOM have clawed their way back to several key positions.

Clashes took place in the city on Friday but calm was restored over the weekend, an AFP journalist said.

The ongoing violence has hampered relief efforts as aid agencies try to deliver food to Somalia's drought victims.

The United Nation's World Food Programme (WFP) began airlifting supplies to Mogadishu last week despite battles in the city.

About 12 million people are affected by the devastating drought across the Horn of Africa, the worst to hit the region in decades.

The UN has declared a famine in two regions of southern Somalia but the effects have been felt more widely across the country, as well as in parts of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

Relief efforts have also been hampered by a ban on some humanitarian agencies by the rebels who controls much of southern Somalia.

The group has denied there is a famine in Somalia, saying the crisis is being exploited by external enemies.

Shebab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage has claimed that local Muslims are adequately addressing the drought crisis, saying in a speech on rebel radio that there is no need for assistance from "an outside enemy or non-Muslims".

He said the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have been streaming across the Somali border into the mainly Christian countries of Ethiopia and Kenya in search for food were being lured there "so that their faith can be destroyed".

The UN children's agency UNICEF has said 1.25 million children are in urgent need of life-saving support in southern Somalia.

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