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Somali minister shot dead in car after being mistaken for militant: police

MOGADISHU: Somali security forces shot dead a minister for public works in his car in the capital Mogadishu on Wednesday after mistaking him for a militant, officials said.

Mogadishu mayoral spokesman Abdifatah Omar Halane said the minister, Abbas Abdullahi Sheikh Siraji, who was also a lawmaker, was killed “by mistake – they opened fire on his car accidentally. May God rest his soul”.

Police Major Nur Hussein told Reuters that security forces on patrol encountered a car blocking the street and, believing it was being driven by militants, opened fire.

Al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab militants often carry out attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere in their campaign to topple Somalia’s government and drive out African Union peacekeeping troops out of the Horn of Africa country.

Siraji, a former refugee who spent large parts of his life at a camp in Kenya, had been the youngest member of Somalia’s new cabinet.

Meanwhile, al-Shabab has said it will step up its attacks after the president announced a new military offensive against the group, which has been fighting to overthrow the country’s internationally recognised government.

In March, a car bomb blast targeting a security checkpoint near the presidential palace killed at least five people and wounded several others.

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