Shabaab Car Bomb Kills Lawmaker Inside Mogadishu

PHOTO: A Somali police officer stands guard next to a car destroyed in an explosion in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 16, 2012.

Just days after the Somali government announced it was sweeping the remnants of the al Shabaab terror group out of Mogadishu, a car bomb planted by the al Qaeda affiliate killed a prominent member of the Somali government inside the city.

Authorities said a bomb planted in his vehicle and detonated by remote control killed Member of Parliament Mohamud Abdi Garwayne and wounded six others, including three of Garwayne's bodyguards, in the Hamarweyne neighborhood Monday morning. Garwayne, a former trade minister, had been a member of an Islamist party before joining Somalia's Transitional Federal Government.

Witnesses reported that Garwayne's body was burned beyond recognition. Garwayne was driving the car when the bomb exploded. The device was reportedly placed beneath the driver's seat, a technique associated with Shabaab.

"Lawmaker Mohamud Garwayne was killed in the attack," regional deputy security chief Warsame Mohamed Hassan told reporters in Mogadishu on Monday. "A bomb had been placed in his car without his awareness." Boubacar Gaoussou Diarra, the head of the African Union Mission in Somalia, condemned the attack in a statement decrying "attempts to derail the peace."

"It is deplorable that before the beginning of Ramadan foreign-led forces opposed to the peace process use cowardly and barbaric attacks, with no regard for the life of innocent Somalis, in a desperate attempt to derail Somalia's greatest hope for peace in decades," said Ambassador Diarra.

Shabaab issued a statement claiming credit for the attack.

The attack came as Somalia prepares for a National Constituent Assembly that is charged with forming a new and permanent government. The mandate of the current transitional government expires next month.

African Union and Somali troops had largely expelled Shabaab from the capital a year ago. On Friday, the government announced its forces had cordoned off several Mogadishu neighborhoods and conducted a series of mop-up raids, netting 89 suspected members of al Shabaab. "The objective of the raid was to weed out the remnants of the al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group," said the government in a statement after the raids, "in the wake of numerous roadmap activities being held in Mogadishu that will pave the way for the return of permanent and representative government."

Somali authorities also say they are now housing several hundred former Shabaab fighters, many of them teens, who have defected from the beleaguered terror group and sought food and shelter via a government program.

Kenyan forces have also been pressing al Shabaab inside Somalia, and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said in June that Shabaab would be defeated in a final offensive, expected next month.

On Sunday, Somalia's interior minister said security inside Mogadishu would be increased in anticipation of Ramadan, which begins Friday. Shabaab has vowed to continue attacks despite leaving Mogadishu, and has often stepped up attacks inside Somalia during Ramadan.

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