x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Teenage girls executed by Somalian firing squad

Hundreds of townspeople forced to watch as ten masked men opened fire on the blindfolded girls.

MOGADISHU // Two teenage girls were executed by firing squad in Somalia yesterday, and hundreds of residents of a town were forced to view the spectacle by the Islamist group al Shabab, which controls much of the south of the country.

An al Shabab leader, Sheik Mohammed Ibrahim, sentenced the girls to death in the town of Belet Weyne for allegedly spying for government soldiers. The local al Shabab administration appoints judges and the only needed qualifications are that the person must be a man who knows the Quran.

Al Shabab is linked to al Qa'eda and has carried out several whippings, amputations and executions to enforce its own strict interpretation of Islam. This was the first public execution of girls in Belet Weyne, a town in western Somalia.

Abdiwali Aden, a witness, told the Associated Press by phone that al Shabab militiamen had walked through Belet Weyne's streets, informing residents about the pending executions by loudspeaker and ordering everyone to attend.

Ayan Mohamed Jama, 18, and Huriyo Ibrahim, 15, were brought before hundreds of residents. Ten masked men opened fire on the girls, who were blindfolded, soon after the sentencing. As the girls were shot, they shouted "There is no God but Allah," said a witness who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.

A woman fainted after she saw the girls being shot, said Da'ud Ahmed, another witness.

An al Shabab official, Sheik Yusuf Ali Ugas, said the girls had admitted to spying. But Sadia Osman, who witnessed the execution, said one of the girls said she was innocent. Sheikh Ugas also warned residents against using their mobile phones or cameras to document the execution, saying anyone violating his rule risked amputation.

Human Rights Watch said in an April report that al Shabab imposed "unrelenting repression and brutality".

Al Shabab, which has given its allegiance to al Qa'eda and whose members include foreign fighters, controls large parts of southern Somalia and much of the capital, Mogadishu.