15th December 2009
This barbaric scene belongs in the Dark Ages, but pictures emerged today of a group of Islamic militants who forced villagers to watch as they stoned a man to death for adultery.
Mohamed Abukar Ibrahim, a 48-year-old, was buried in a hole up to his chest and pelted with rocks until he died.
The group responsible, Hizbul Islam, also shot dead a man they claimed was a murderer.
But the verdict was so shocking that it prompted a gun battle between rivals within the group that left three militants dead, witnesses said.
The executions took place yesterday in Afgoye, some 20 miles south-west of the capital of Mogadishu.
Hizbul Islam fighters ordered hundreds of residents to a field, where a rebel judge announced that the two men had confessed to murder and adultery.
A woman who had confessed to fornication had been sentenced to 100 lashes, he added.
'This is their day of justice,' the judge, Osman Siidow Hasan, told the crowd. 'We investigated and they confessed.'
But when some Hizbul Islam fighters wanted to delay the executions, a bloody gun battle broke out between the two factions, shocked residents said.
'Three Hizbul Islam fighters died and five others were injured after they fought each other," Halima Osman, an Afgoye shopkeeper, told Reuters in Mogadishu by telephone.
'Some wanted to delay the execution while the others insisted. They exchanged fire. The group that was against the execution was overpowered and chased away,' she said.
Once the gun battle was over, the militants coldly carried out the verdicts.
A relative of the murder victim shot the first as he lay on the floor.
'I could not watch,' local man Ali Gabow told Reuters. 'The lady who had been with the second man was only given 100 lashes because she said she had never married.'
The executions were the first time that Hizbul Islam guerillas had dealt out the type of punishments usually associated with the more hardline al Shabaab rebel group in Somalia.
The U.S. claims that al Shabaab is al Qaeda's proxy in the failed Horn of Africa state. That rival Islamic groups are beginning to align their practices with al Shabaab is a chilling twist in the already frightening militancy that is gripping the country.
President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's Western-backed government controls just a few strategic sites in Mogadishu.
Western security experts say the country has become a safe haven for militants, including foreign jihadists, who are using it to plot attacks across the impoverished region and beyond.
There are some fears that Somalia could become the new pre-9/11 Afghanistan.
Al Shabaab, and to a lesser extent Hizbul Islam, are fighting the government to impose their harsh interpretation of Islamic Sharia law across the drought-ravaged country.
Al Shabaab clerics have banned movies, dancing at weddings and playing or watching soccer in the areas under their control, as well as carrying out executions and amputations.
Fighting has killed 19,000 Somali civilians since the start of 2007 and driven another 1.5 million from their homes, triggering one of the world's most acute humanitarian disasters.
The chaos has also spilled offshore, where Somali pirate gangs have made tens of millions of dollars in ransoms targeting commercial shipping in the Indian Ocean and busy Gulf of Aden.
Source: Daily Mail