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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Kaamil Ahmed

Female opposition MP among dozens killed in Somalia bombings

Somali MP Amina Mohamed Abdi
MP Amina Mohamed Abdi, who was an outspoken critic of the government, died while campaigning in Beledweyne, central Somalia Photograph: Feisal Omar/Reuters

A “fearless” Somali female MP was among dozens of people killed in a series of bomb attacks in rural Somalia on Wednesday.

According to a witness quoted by the Associated Press, the bomber ran towards and embraced opposition MP Amina Mohamed Abdi before detonating a bomb as she campaigned in the town of Beledweyne in central Somalia ahead of parliamentary elections this week.

At least 48 people were killed in the attacks, according to Ali Abdullahi Hussein, president of Hirshabelle state.

The local police chief, Col Isak Ali Abdulle, said the authorities were still trying to establish the total number of fatalities. At least 30 people were killed when a car bomb was detonated outside a hospital.

The militant group al-Shabaab have claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Earlier on Wednesday, at least six people were killed when two al-Shabaab gunmen tried to storm Mogadishu’s Aden Adde international airport.

Abdi was an outspoken critic of the government and had accused the authorities of trying to stop her from running for parliament, partly for advocating for an investigation into the killing of Ikran Tahlil Farah, a female intelligence officer who went missing in June.

The Somali prime minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble, said Abdi’s killing was an “attempt to disrupt justice” in Tahlil’s case. In September, the head of the country’s intelligence agency, Nisa, was fired over the handling of Tahlil’s disappearance.

MP Abdirizak Mohamed tweeted: “Somalia has lost a promising giant leader, an activist, a fearless advocate who finally paid the ultimate price for seeking justice for Ikran Tahlil. We spent time chatting yesterday and I was moved by her intellect, optimism and plans for Somalia.”

Former minister of commerce and industry, Khadra Dualeh, said she had been concerned for Abdi’s safety and recently told her to leave the country.

“Amina knew they [the authorities] would stop at nothing to deny her contesting her MP seat. However, she was fearless, courageous and fought valiantly as well as conscientiously for her principles,” Dualeh said.

Former lawmaker Hassan Dhuhul was also killed outside a restaurant in Beledweyne. A funeral prayer, attended by Roble and other politicians, was held for both MPs at Mogadishu airport on Thursday.

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