MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Gunmen from Somalia's al Shabaab militant group shot dead a senior intelligence officer as he walked to a mosque in Mogadishu late on Monday, police and the group said.

Colonel Abdiasis Araye was killed in the capital's Waberi district, police officer Ismail Hussein told Reuters. "We reached the scene but the militants had already escaped," Hussein added.

Al Shabaab launches regular attacks in Mogadishu in its bid to topple Somalia's Western-backed government and impose its version of Islam.

It often targets troops and police officers from a 22,000-strong African Union force known as AMISOM that supports Somalia's army.

Al Shabaab’s spokesman for military operations, Abdiasis Abu Musab, said the group killed Colonel Araye.

(Reporting by Feisal Omar and Abdi Sheikh; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Andrew Heavens)