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Somalia's Islamists Hold First Public Execution


Islamic militias that seized control of much of southern Somalia have executed a man by firing squad, the first public execution since they took over in June.

The man killed Friday, was sentenced to death for murdering a man in a cell phone dispute. A spokesman for the Islamic courts said the execution will send a message that Islamic sharia law will be enforced.

Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991. A U.N. backed interim government was formed in 2004 but now controls only the town of Baidoa. Islamists seized the capital, Mogadishu, in June.

Somalia's interim government and the Islamists are attempting to work out a peace agreement as both try to expand their authority.

Talks have been deadlocked over the issue of a regional peacekeeping force in Somalia, which the Islamists strongly oppose.

Somalia denies CIA presence in suicide bombing probing

The transitional government of Somalia on Friday denied reports that the U.S. Central Bureau of Investigations (CIA) were probing an assassination attempt against Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf early this week.

Government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said the United States, which was accused of bankrolling former Mogadishu-based warlords, had not dispatched its CIA agents to Baidoa, the seat of the fledgling administration, to probe Monday's abortive suicide bombing on Yusuf.

Speaking by telephone from Baidoa, about 250 km north of Mogadishu, Dinari said the government only sent a general request to international community for help with the investigations.

"The Somali government has requested assistance from the international community, but there is no single party that we specifically asked to help us investigate the Baidoa blasts," Dinari said.

Dinari said that some countries such as Ethiopia and some members of the regional mediation body, the Inter Governmental Authority on Development, which mediated the two-year reconciliation process that culminated in the formation of interim government, had offered assistance to the investigation.

The spokesman also confirmed the government was questioning six suspects in connection with the suicide bombing which claimed 11 lives and injured 19 others.

"We can't release their names due to sensitivity of the matter and may also jeopardize ongoing investigations," said Dinari.

Meanwhile, the rapidly advancing militias of the Islamic Courts are mulling to take over the strategic southern port of Kismayo and to close the border with neighboring Kenya.

Analysts say both steps would considerably boost the power of the group which already controls much of southern Somalia.

Regional analysts also say closing the border with neighboring Kenya could prevent the deployment of regional peacekeepers, which neighboring countries say is necessary to stabilize the Horn of African nation.

Somalia's government has repeatedly called for peacekeepers to bolster its bid to re-establish central rule in Somalia for the first time in 15 years. Hundreds of demonstrators on Thursday expressed support for a peacekeeping mission while denouncing a car bombing on Monday that targeted President Yusuf.

Yusuf was unhurt in the blast, which along with an ensuing gun battle killed 11 including his brother.

Leader of Somali Islamic Courts warns Uganda against deployment

A leader of Somali Islamic Courts has warned Uganda against deploying its peacekeeping troops in Somalia as the Ugandan military was preparing for the oversea mission.

Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, political leader of the Union of Islamic Courts, was quoted by New Vision daily on Friday as warning he does not want to see Ugandan soldiers shed blood in Somalia.

"We don't want a Somali bullet to hit a Ugandan. Or a Ugandan bullet to hit a Somali. There should be no reason for that," said Aweys whose militia group controls much of Somali capital Mogadishu.

"Ugandans were our good brothers and neighbors. We like them. They have helped us a lot. But now, unnecessary tensions are cropping up because of the talk of their sending troops," he added.

The Ugandan government planed to deploy its peacekeeping troops in Somalia under the auspices of the African Union and Inter- Governmental Authority on Development, a regional body that brings together Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

At a meeting last month with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said his cabinet has already approved the deployment and is now awaiting parliamentary approval before the soldier leave for Somalia.

Ugandan Information Minister Kirunda Kivejinja said on Thursday that Uganda is in the process of asking the UN to partially lift the arms embargo on Somalia so that the Ugandan troops can easily be deployed.

Aweys, who is on the U.S. list of "the most wanted terrorists and individuals supporting terrorism", is strongly opposed to the sending of a peacekeeping force.

"Our reaction is no to foreign troops. I really don't understand the need for them. We have been against the deployment of foreign troops even when the situation was much worse," he said

"Now that most of the country is more or less secure, there is no reason for it. If they come, we will have no choice but to fight them. We will see it as an invasion," Aweys said.

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