As the girls were shot, they shouted "There is no God but Allah!"
MOGADISHU, Somalia (CP)— An al-Qaida-linked Islamic group says it has executed two girls in a western Somali town, accusing them of spying for Somalia's weak, U.N.-backed government.
Al-Shabab judge Sheik Mohamed Ibrahim on Wednesday sentenced the girls to death for working for government soldiers fighting the group in the town of Belet Weyne.
Ayan Mohamed Jama, 18, and Huriyo Ibrahim, 15 were executed by firing squad soon after sentencing.
A firing squad shot the pair in front of hundreds of local residents Wednesday afternoon, in the first known instance of such an execution over spying charges against women.As the girls were shot, they shouted "There is no God but Allah," says an eyewitness who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.
"These women were spying for the enemy and were arrested by mujahideen (holy warriors)" last week, Sheikh Yusuf Ali Ugas, the insurgent group's regional commander, told the crowd after the execution.
"After a long investigation, they confessed to their crimes," he said, adding that dozens of other people were held at Beledweyne police station on the same charges and faced the same fate.
Residents gathered at the Shebab's headquarters in Beledweyne, a town which lies near the Ethiopian border and witnessed heavy fighting between the insurgent group and pro-government forces earlier this month.
"The group informed the population that a punishment was going to be carried out in public on two women they claimed had been found guilty of spying," said a resident, who gave his name only as Ali.
"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," he said.
"It was shocking, the girls were so young. They looked so desperate but nobody could help them," Ali added. AFP
Al-Shabab controls large parts of southern Somalia and its members vow allegiance to al-Qaida. It has carried out several whippings, amputations and executions to enforce its own strict interpretation of Islam.