Somalian extremists shoot two for watching World Cup
SOMALI Islamist militia shot dead two people who wanted to watch the World Cup semi-final, in the latest sign of a hardline religious edge to the newly-powerful movement, witnesses said yesterday.
Four others were wounded in the fracas outside a cinema.
The Islamists, who kicked US-backed warlords out of Mogadishu then took control of a large swathe of southern Somalia last month, initially sought to project a moderate image but have been increasingly showing a more radical side.
Tuesday night's shooting came when militiamen in the central town of Dusa Mareb - the home area of the Islamists' hardline leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys - shut a cinema showing the Germany-Italy semi-final, inhabitants said.
"They stood in front of the cinema and told the cinema to shut down quickly," Muhubo Warsame, a resident, said.
When the mainly young audience began a demonstration outside, the gunmen first shot into the air, but their bullets also killed two and wounded four others, the witnesses said. The dead were the cinema's owner and a young girl.
Locals were furious. "Islam does not accept killing an innocent person without reason," Elmi Abdullahi, an elder, said. "We support the Islamic courts, yet our children are dying without reason," added another elder. There have been numerous other reports of militia from the Islamic sharia courts - out of which the movement grew - stopping viewings of the World Cup, provoking public protests.
Islamic leaders say that is not their policy, but the work of over-zealous militiamen.
Somalis, who initially welcomed the relative pacification of Mogadishu and other areas by the Islamic militia, are becoming disillusioned with some of their practices and nervous of a Taleban-style rule. Somalis are mostly moderate Muslims.
The sheikhs at the forefront of the movement say they have no foreign model and their priority is to bring law and order to the Horn of Africa nation, which has been without central rule since warlords ousted a military dictator in 1991.
A delegation from the African Union (AU) and the east African inter-governmental peace body IGAD was visiting Baidoa on Wednesday in the latest effort by the international community to come to terms with Somalia's power-shift.
While many hoped that the Islamists and government could reach a power-sharing accord, they now fear armed confrontation.
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