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Somali militant atrocities horrify town

world Updated: Oct 29, 2010 12:17 IST

AP
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Two accused spies, both girls aged 15 and 18, were publicly executed by the hardline Islamist militia, the al-Shabab.

Grieving relatives say they were uneducated, usually stayed at home and could not have spied for anyone. Horrified residents of the town of Belet Weyne, in western Somalia, were forced to watch the execution on Wednesday as the pair was gunned down by 10 masked executioners."Those who watched the event could not bear the painful experience. Two very young girls were shot as they watched and no one could help," said Dahir Casowe, a local elder.

Al-Shabab is linked to the Al-Qaida and has carried out whippings, amputations and executions to enforce its own strict interpretation of Islam. However this was the first public execution which al-Shabab took over just over a year ago. Only shortly before the executions, Sheik Mohamed Ibrahim sentenced the girls to death for spying for government soldiers fighting the Al-Shabab. His gender and knowledge of the Quran qualify Ibrahim to be appointed a judge by the Al-Shabab.

Witnesses claim that the al-Shabab militiamen had walked through Belet Weyne's streets, ordering residents to attend the pending executions. Later, Ayan Mohamed Jama, 18, and Huriyo Ibrahim, 15, were blindfolded and mowed down with assault rifles. Ayan's father, Mohamed Jama, said that she had been missing for two days. Then a week ago relatives informed him that she was in the custody of the al-Shabab. However, he was not allowed to meet his daughter.

Condemning the sentence, a local elder, speaking on condition of anonymity said that the girls' so-called trial was a sham. "No evidence was presented," he said. "There was no independent investigation. I think the execution was only meant to show the cruelty of al-Shabab militants so the residents in the region are terrified." The Human Rights Watch said in an April report that the al-Shabab imposes "unrelenting repression and brutality."

Al-Shabab, which vows allegiance to al-Qaida and whose members include foreign fighters, controls large parts of southern Somalia and much of the capital, Mogadishu. Somalia, which has not had an effective central government since the last 19 years is run by UN backed government controls through parts of Mogadishu, while its allies control much of central Somalia.