A member of Somalia's parliament has been killed in a shooting for which the militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility.
Mohamed Mohamud Hayd was killed Thursday when gunmen sprayed his car with bullets in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Abdullahi Ahmed Conka, a lawmaker who was riding with Hayd, told VOA's Somali service that the attackers drove next to the car and opened fire. Conka said Hayd's bodyguard returned fire but was also shot and killed.
A parliamentary official in the car was wounded, while Conka escaped without injury.
This has been the fifth such attack in as many days.
The al-Qaida-affiliated Islamist militants were pushed out of the capital by African peacekeeping forces in 2011, but it has since waged a bombing campaign to try to overthrow the government and impose its strict version of Sharia law.
Al-Shabab threatened to step up attacks during the Ramadan fasting month, which began on Sunday, killing at least seven government security personnel and a tax collector in addition to the lawmaker.
“Our colleague legislator Mohamed Mohamud Hayd and his bodyguard died - another lawmaker and a secretary for the parliament were also injured in the exchange of fire,” lawmaker Dahir Amin Jesow told Reuters.
“The MP who died was a former admiral and a hardworking lawmaker who has been in parliament for over a decade. I understand the gunmen escaped - it is very unfortunate.”
A witness told the French news agency AFP that MP Ahmed Mohamud Hayd, a former minister and a senior army commander, was killed in the capital's port district, one of the most heavily policed areas in the heart of the city.
The district is close to both parliament and the presidential palace.
Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed condemned the "abhorrent" attack.
"We condemn this and any other murders, especially during the holy month of Ramadan," Ahmed said in a statement.
The U.S. State Department condemned the attack on Hayd, saying it "exemplifies the danger al-Shabab poses to all Somalis" and shows disrespect for the principles of Ramadan.
Sheik Abdiasis abu Musab, al-Shabab's spokesman for military affairs, pledged to continue killing Somali legislators “one by one.”
“The so-called lawmakers are the ones who brought the enemy Christians into our country. We shall continue killing the legislators in bundles,” Musab told Reuters, a reference to the support Mogadishu receives from Western governments and African Union members who have sent in troops to battle the rebels.
Al-Shabab killed two MPs in Mogadishu in April, gunning down one and blowing up the other over two successive days.
U.S. military advisers have secretly operated in Somalia since about 2007 and Washington plans to deepen its security assistance to help the country fend off al-Shabab, U.S. officials told Reuters.
Foreign diplomats say al-Shabab threaten several nations in East Africa, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, who all have troops in Somalia.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.