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Somalia

Al-Shebab kills two Somali girls

Feisal Omar/Reuters

Somali hardline Islamist militia al-Shebab publicly executed two teenage girls in central Somalia for spying, witnesses said Thursday. The two youths were shot via firing squad in front of hundreds of people in the town of Beledweyne, near the Ethiopian border.

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"Aftera long investigation, they confessed to their crimes," said Sheikh Yusuf Ali Ugas, Shebab's regional commander. "Anyone found to be involved in such crimes will meet the same fate and will be executed," he said.

Ugas added that dozens of other accused spies were being held at Beledweyne police station for the same crime and would meet the same fate.

Ali, a witness to the execution who did not want to give his last name, said that Shebab had made the announcement that the girls were to be killed because they were spying.

"I didn't know they were planning to shoot them. The two girls were sitting on the ground with their hands tied behind their back. Then a group of fighters covered their faces and shot them from behind," said Ali.

Witnesses said the girls were believed to be 17 or 18.

"It was shocking, the girls were so young. They looked so desperate but nobody could help them," he said.

Maryam Ahmed, another witness said she couldn't hold back her tears. "Everyone was very sorry for the young girls who were killed in front of hundreds," she said.

Somali Information Minister Omar Osman issued a statement condemning the executions. "This execution is yet another human rights abuse committed by the criminals. The acto fo killing innocaent children does not have Islamic and humanitarian justifications," he said.

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