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Page last updated at 13:55 GMT, Saturday, 18 July 2009 14:55 UK

Sharia trial for Somalia hostages

An al-Shabab fighter in Mogadishu, file image
Somalia's Islamists are accused of links to al-Qaeda

Two French security advisers seized in Somalia will be tried under Sharia law, an official from their captors, the Islamist al-Shabab militia, says.

A spokesman said they would be tried for spying and "conspiracy against Islam", which could mean a death penalty.

However, correspondents say al-Shabab is divided, with some officials wanting a ransom payment rather than a trial.

The two, who were training government troops, were kidnapped in Mogadishu last week and then handed to al-Shabab.

Al-Shabab and its allies control much of southern Somalia.

The al-Shabab official said no date had been set for the trial of the two men.

map showing areas under Islamist control

They were on an official mission to train the forces of the interim government, which has recently appealed for foreign help to tackle Islamist insurgents.

Moderate Islamist President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was sworn in in January after UN-brokered peace talks.

He promised to introduce Sharia law but the hardliners accuse him of being a western stooge.

Somalia has not had a functioning national government since 1991.



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