Daily Dispatches
Mourners carry the body of Somali lawmaker Abdiaziz Isaq Mursal for burial in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Associated Press/Photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh
Mourners carry the body of Somali lawmaker Abdiaziz Isaq Mursal for burial in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Al-Shabaab militants kill Somali legislators over ‘invasion of Christians’

Terrorism

Islamic extremists with al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for last week’s killing of two Somali legislators who had voted to accept financial support from the West. The al-Qaeda-linked group threatened to continue the violence. 

In a radio broadcast, al-Shabaab representatives said the group was behind the two gunmen who shot and killed Abdiaziz Isaq Mursal as he stepped out of his home April 22. They ambushed him in the Madina district of Mogadishu, according to senior police officer Ali Hassan. 

A day earlier, the group killed legislator Isaq Mohamed Rino in a car bombing. Another lawmaker traveling with him was wounded. Somalian Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed condemned the “cowardly attack.”

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“The use of terror will not derail us from the progress made in securing Somalia, it only serves to unite and strengthen our resolve to defeat all forms of terrorism and violence,” Ahmed said in a statement.

Al-Shabaab’s military spokesman, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, warned that, “More serious killings are on the way,” Reuters reported. The group meant the car bombing as punishment for the government allowing the “invasion of the Christians into Somalia,” according to Reuters.

International Christian Concern (ICC) said in a press release that al-Shabaab’s statement referenced the “lawmakers’ vote to accept financial support from Western governments and members of the African Union who have sent troops into Somalia.” 

“More must be done to protect the small and extremely vulnerable population of Christians in Somalia and all those who stand for their rights,” ICC said following the killings.

Somalia is one of the worst countries for Christians, ranked second only to North Korea, according to Voice of the Martyrs. A 2012 U.S. State Department report on religious freedom said al-Shabaab persecutes Somali Christians and threatens both secular and faith-based aid groups. 

ICC said militants with al-Shabaab are suspected in the murder of a Christian woman, known as Sufia, who was dragged out of her home and shot to death earlier this month. “The group adheres to a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam that includes the beheading of converts from Islam, or, as we’ve witnessed in Sufia's case, execution by firing squad,” ICC spokesman William Stark said in a statement.

In March, Morning Star News (MSN) reported al-Shabaab publicly beheaded two people after learning they were Christians. MSN was told the militant announced, “We know these two people are Christians who recently came back from Kenya—we want to wipe out any underground Christian living inside of mujahidin [jihadists’] area.”

Al-Shabab fought for years to install an Islamic government in Somalia and controlled the capital from 2006 to 2011, in addition to many rural areas. UN-supported African Union forces including Kenyans and Ugandans drove al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu in late 2011. Since then, al-Shabaab has continued to terrorize Somalis and occasionally retaliate in other countries, including the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, where they killed at least 67 people.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour

Julia has worked as a writer in the Washington, D.C., area since 2005 and was a fall 2012 participant in a World Journalism Institute mid-career class conducted by WORLD editor in chief Marvin Olasky in Asheville, N.C. Follow Julia on Twitter @SteakandaBible.

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