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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 August 2006, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
Somali woman is flogged for drugs
The woman protested her innocence as she was flogged

A Somali woman has been flogged in public for selling cannabis by Islamist militias who now control the capital.

This is the first time a woman has received this kind of punishment since the Union of Islamic Courts seized Mogadishu in June. She got 11 lashes.

Arrested for a small bundle of the drug worth $1, she pleaded innocence while being beaten, AP news agency reports.

Most sellers of the mild narcotic khat, widely used in Somalia, are women but the UIC has not opposed this trade.

The BBC's Hassan Barise in Mogadishu says women often sell khat because during the long civil war, they aroused less suspicion than men when crossing between areas controlled by rival factions.

The UIC was set up two years ago by businessmen who wanted some law and order. Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991.

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Five men were also whipped in Thursday's ceremony, in which the seized drugs were burnt.

This is only the second time that the UIC has carried out a public flogging in Mogadishu.

The UIC is divided between radicals, who want to impose a Taleban-style state in Somalia, and moderates, who say they have no such plans.

It controls much of southern Somalia, while the internationally recognised government remains confined to Baidoa, some 200km to the north of Mogadishu.

East African diplomats have been trying to bring the Islamists and the government together for talks.




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