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August 4, 2014 | Somalia

Somali Shebab claim killing of senior police chief

Somali soldiers walk along Bosaso harbor in Puntland on November 18, 2013.  By Mohamed Abdiwahab (AFP/File)
Somali soldiers walk along Bosaso harbor in Puntland on November 18, 2013. By Mohamed Abdiwahab (AFP/File)

Mogadishu (AFP) - Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab said they had carried out a car bombing that killed a senior police chief in the north of the war-torn country Monday, the latest in a string of attacks.

"With the blessing of Allah, the mujahedeen have carried out a successful operation targeting senior apostate officials," Shebab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab said in a statement, boasting that three other policemen also died in the blast.

Government officials in Mogadishu confirmed the death of Adirahman Abbas, police chief in the Bari region of Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region, on the northern Gulf of Aden coastline.

Abbas headed the police in Puntland's key port of Bosaso, the Bari region's main city.

A suicide bomber is reported to have driven a car loaded with explosives at Abbas' car.

Officials confirmed that other police officers died in the blast, without giving an exact number.

Musab claimed the police chief was "targeted due to his crimes against Muslims... having imprisoned, tortured and killed many, thereby fulfilling the orders of the Crusaders."

Recent Shebab attacks in Somalia have targeted key areas of government and security forces in an apparent bid to discredit claims the insurgents have been weakened.

"God willing, everyone who treads his path will face a similar fate," Musab added.

Most of the recent Shebab attacks have been in the capital Mogadishu, over 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) to the south of Monday's bomb, but the Islamists also have struck from bases in the rugged Golis mountains close by to Bosaso.

The mountain range, straddling the porous border between Puntland and self-declared independent Somaliland, is honeycombed with caves and difficult to access.

The 22,000-strong African Union force fighting the Shebab in southern Somalia say the extremists are on the back foot, having fled fixed positions in Mogadishu three years ago and have since lost most large towns.

But they still hold sway in vast swathes of the rural hinterland from which they regularly launch guerrilla raids, including the Golis mountains.

In Mogadishu, the Shebab have assassinated five lawmakers this year, and have twice launched major assaults on the presidential palace, breaching the walls of the fortified compound.

In May, the Islamist insurgents also launched a similar attack against the national parliament.

The Shebab have also increased attacks against regional countries with troops in the AU force, with a series of killings in neighbouring Kenya, following last September's attack on Nairobi's Westgate mall in which at least 67 people were killed.

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