Almaas Elman theGrio.com
Almaas Elman (Twitter/@AlmaasElman)

A social justice activist and aid worker, who devoted her life to peacekeeping missions in her native land, was murdered in the capital of Somalia on Wednesday.

Almaas Elman, whose family fled to Canada after the bloody Somali civil war in the early 1990s but who came back to assist in rebuilding efforts, was shot and killed in Mogadishu, according to The New York Times.

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Brig. Gen. Zakia Hussein, deputy commissioner of the Somali Police Force, confirmed Elman’s death and said police are conducting an investigation. Hussein said Elman was shot and killed while sitting in a car at the Halane complex, a heavily guarded compound with African Union troops and United Nations reps near Mogadishu’s international airport, The Times reported.

Said Fadhaye, who works as a freelance videographer in Mogadishu, posted on Facebook that he was in the car with Elman when she was killed. Writing in his native language, Fadhaye called the shooting an “attack,” and said Elman “died on my lap.”

Elman hails from a family of Somalian peace activists who centered their work on social justice, women’s rights and rehabilitating children who are the youngest victims of Somalia’s longstanding war. Her father, Elman Ali Ahmed, was murdered in Mogadishu in 1996 because of his activism, according to The Times.

Elman’s mother, Fartuun Adan, founded the Elman Peace Center in 1990 to promote the protection of human rights in Somalia.

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The family fled Somalia’s civil war in the early 1990s for Canada but returned in 2010 to help build back up their beloved country.

“I am shocked to the core,” Mohamed Dubo, a communication specialist in Mogadishu, told The New York Times. “(It’s) hard to internalize this death.”

Almaas Elman formerly worked at the Somali Embassy in Kenya. More recently, she served as a consultant for the European Union delegation to Somalia. In 2017, she married Zakaria Hersi, who works as a tech entrepreneur.