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Page last updated at 22:43 GMT, Sunday, 28 June 2009 23:43 UK

Somali 'killer' stoned to death

An al-Shabab fighter stands guard over a crowd during a court session in Mogadishu on 22 June 2009
The radical Islamist al-Shabab are accused of links to al-Qaeda

Hardline Islamist militiamen in Somalia have stoned to death a man accused of raping and murdering a woman.

The execution took place in front of a large crowd in the town of Wanlaweyn, about 90km (55 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu.

The man was convicted by an unofficial court set up by the al-Shabab movement.

On Thursday in Mogadishu, al-Shabab - which advocates a strict form of Sharia - publicly amputated a hand and a foot from each of four men accused of theft.

"This man was accused of raping and killing an 18-year-old girl in May this year. The court found him guilty of the charges brought against him," Sheikh Mohamed Saleban, a local al-Shabab official, told AFP news agency on Sunday.

Ten masked men dug a hole, buried him to his neck before throwing stones at him
Abdullahi Husein
Local resident

"He was a married man, which is why the court sentenced him to be stoned to death," he added, explaining that a rape conviction only incurs flogging.

Local resident Abdullahi Husein said most of the town's population turned out to watch the lynching, where gunmen banned cameras and mobile phones.

"Ten masked men from the al-Shabab forces stoned him to death in front of everyone. They had dug a hole, buried him to his neck before throwing stones at him," he told AFP.

In October last year, al-Shabab ordered a 13-year-old girl to be stoned to death in public in the southern city of Kismayo.

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She was accused of adultery after reporting she had been raped by three men.

The radical Islamists, who are accused of links to al-Qaeda, already control much of the south of the country.

Since last month, al-Shabab's guerrillas have been locked in ferocious battles with forces loyal to the fragile UN-backed government in Mogadishu.

Last week, the administration appealed to neighbouring countries urgently to send troops to help.

A moderate Islamist president took office in January but even his introduction of Sharia law to the strongly Muslim country has not appeased the guerrillas.

Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991.



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