It took only minutes — a vehicle approaches and then overtakes a car winding through the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia. Gunshots whiz though the air, glass shatters and the blood of a new member of Parliament and his bodyguard spills into the streets.
The Islamist militant group al-Shabaab, which is fighting the United Nations-backed government in Somalia, on social media claimed responsibility for Saturday’s assassination of Abdullah Hussein Mohamud, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Yusuf Osman.
Somalia National Intelligence Agency spokesman Salah Yassin tweeted that al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Mohamud was a new MP, stepping into the position left vacant by his father’s death in April from natural causes. He was shot in the Wadajir area of Mogadishu, said Yassin, who said that Mohamud’s bodyguard was killed in the attack.
“Today is the day the counterterrorism bill went to Parliament, so [the attack was] probably designed to coincide and send a message,” said Yassin.
News of the attack came as U.S. President Barack Obama and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta were speaking in Nairobi, where Obama is visiting. It’s not clear that there is any connection. Prior to news of the attack, Obama said during a joint news conference that Somalia’s al-Shabaab militants had been “weakened,” but that the overall security threat posed by the group remained.
Al-Shabaab in recent months has assassinated a number of politicians by using drive-by shootings or improvised explosive devices.