Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Saturday, 17 October 2009 17:53 UK

Guns given to Somali quiz winners

Somali Islamist fighters
Quiz prizes included rifles, grenades, an anti-tank mine and a computer

The winners of a quiz organised by Somali Islamists have been given weapons and ammunition as prizes.

Prizes included AK-47 assault rifles, hand grenades and an anti-tank mine.

The quiz ran during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in the port city of Kismayo, and included questions about the Koran and Somali geography.

A representative for the al-Shabab militant group said the quiz aimed to stop young men from wasting their time and focus on defending their territory.

"The reason the young men were rewarded with weapons is to encourage them to participate in the ongoing holy war against the enemies of Allah in Somalia," AFP news agency quoted al-Shabab's Sheikh Abdullahi Alhaq as saying at Friday's prize-giving ceremony.

The winning team, from the city's Farjano district, reportedly won a rifle, two grenades, a landmine and office supplies worth $1,000 (£613).

But the runners-up did not go home empty-handed, taking away an AK-47 and bullets.

Al-Shabab and other Islamist rebels accused of having links to al-Qaeda dominate much of southern and central Somalia, where they have imposed strict Sharia law.

The country last had a functioning central government in 1991.

A weak UN-backed government runs only parts of the capital, Mogadishu.

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