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Jul 23, 2:26 PM EDT

Somali lawmaker shot dead in drive-by shooting


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AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh
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MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- Al-Qaida-linked gunmen killed a female Somali lawmaker, who was known for singing popular folk music, in a drive-by shooting Wednesday, a police official said. The slaying is the fourth assassination of a Somali lawmaker this year.

Saado Ali Warsame was shot dead in the capital, Mogadishu, by gunmen who pulled up near her car as she was being driven to a hotel, said Somali police Capt. Mohamed Hussein.

The Somali Islamic extremist militant group al-Shabab, which is allied with al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the attack on Warsame, one of only a few women in Somalia's parliament and the first female legislator killed by the group.

She is the fourth lawmaker killed this year in militant attacks that increasingly target members of Somalia's parliament, which has emerged as a pillar of democracy in the Horn of Africa nation. This is the second drive-by shooting of a lawmaker since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, during which scores of civilians and government troops have been killed in militant attacks.

Mohamed Ali, a Somali lawmaker who knew Warsame, described her as "courageous and patriotic," saying she was the victim of terrorists who "want to cripple the country."

The killing was condemned by the U.S. State Department and the U.N. representative to Somalia.

"As a singer, songwriter, poet and parliamentarian Warsame exemplified all the best qualities of Somali culture and tradition. This is a tremendous loss to the people of Somalia and to Somalis around the world," the State Department said in a statement.

Warsame's driver was also killed in the attack which happened in Mogadishu's Hodan district, considered to be one of the safest places in the seaside city because of heavy security presence, according to Hussein.

Al-Shabab has previously carried out attacks against government officials, African Union peacekeepers and United Nations staff in a deadly campaign of suicide bombings and gun attacks. Militant attacks have continued despite al-Shabab being ousted from its bases in Mogadishu in 2011.

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