Somalia : two teenage 'spies' executed in Somalia


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Sep 17, 2010
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Two teenage 'spies' executed in Somalia
Mustafa Haji Abdinur
October 29, 2010

MOGADISHU: Somalia's al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab group publicly executed two teenage girls in the central town of Beledweyne on charges of spying, witnesses said.

A firing squad shot the pair in front of hundreds of residents on Wednesday afternoon, in the first known instance of such an execution over spying charges against women.

''These women were spying for the enemy and were arrested by mujahideen [holy warriors],'' last week, Yusuf Ali Ugas, the insurgent group's regional commander, told the crowd after the execution.

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''After a long investigation, they confessed to their crimes.''

He said that dozens of other people were held at Beledweyne police station on the same charges and faced the same fate.

Residents gathered at al-Shebab's headquarters in Beledweyne, a town which lies near the Ethiopian border and witnessed heavy fighting between the insurgent group and pro-government forces this month.

''The group informed the population that a punishment was going to be carried out in public on two women they claimed had been found guilty of spying,'' said a resident, who gave his name only as Ali.

''I didn't know they were planning to shoot them. The two girls were sitting on the ground with their hands tied behind their back. Then a group of fighters covered their faces and shot them from behind.

''It was shocking, the girls were so young. They looked so desperate but nobody could help them.''

Elders and residents gave conflicting information on the girls' ages but they were believed to be 17 or 18.

''Everyone was very sorry for the young girls who were killed in front of hundreds,'' said Maryam Ahmed, another witness. ''I couldn't hold back my tears. I'm worried for the dozens of other people who are in jail on similar allegations.''

Al-Shebab, or ''the youth'', listed as a terrorist organisation by Australia and the US, executed two men on spying charges outside Mogadishu earlier this month.

In a case that grabbed the world's attention two years before Wednesday's execution, a group of men stoned a woman to death in the southern al-Shebab bastion of Kismayo after an Islamic court found her guilty of adultery.

Al-Shebab has in recent years executed many men accused of spying or murder and chopped off the hands of thieves.

Al-Shebab - formerly the youth wing of the Islamic Courts Union of which the President, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, was a political leader - controls three-quarters of Somalia. The group has been waging an insurgency aimed at toppling Mr Sharif's Western-backed transitional federal government and the African Union force that protects it.

It comprises scores of foreign jihadi fighters in its ranks and its leadership has proclaimed allegiance to the al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden.

It advocates a Wahhabi style of Islam imported from the Gulf and imposes a strict form of Islamic law enforced by a religious police known as Jaysh al-Hisbah, or Army of Morality.

Agence France-Presse

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