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By Ibrahim Mohamed
MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Unidentified gunmen have shot dead a judge in northern Somalia who had jailed pirates and members of a hardline rebel group, police said Thursday.
Mohamed Abdi Aware was shot several times in the head and chest by two masked men as he left a mosque late Wednesday in Bossaso, a port in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region.
Puntland is a major base for pirates who have been wreaking havoc in the strategic shipping lanes off the Horn of Africa. Experts say it is also home to organised criminals, including money counterfeiters and human traffickers.
Aware had jailed many of them, including several members of the al Shabaab Islamist insurgent group, which the United States accuses of being al Qaeda's proxy in the region.
Also Wednesday, two gunmen armed with pistols killed a local member of parliament, Ibrahim Elmi Warsame, as he sat at a tea shop in Puntland's capital Garowe.
"The two men ran off into the darkness after the shooting," witness Jama Yusuf told Reuters by telephone.
Police said they were investigating both incidents, and extra security officials were deployed in Bossaso overnight.
Heavily armed Somali pirates, many of them from Puntland, are holding at least 13 vessels and more than 230 crew hostage.
Patrols by a multinational naval force in the busy shipping lanes that link Asia to Europe through the Gulf of Aden only appear to have forced the gangs to extend their range and strike ever deeper into the Indian Ocean.
In the latest incident, a regional maritime official told Reuters a Taiwanese fishing vessel, the Fengli 8, came under attack on Thursday southeast of Nishtun, Yemen.
Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Program said there was one Chinese and 22 Bangladeshi crew on board the Fengli 8, and that a European Union naval ship, the Fridtjof Nansen, was en route to the area to provide assistance.
(Additional reporting by Abdi Guled; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Jon Boyle)