Somalia’s hardline al Shabaab insurgents closed three grassroots women’s organisations in the rebel-held town of Balad Hawa yesterday to stop women from going to work, a rebel leader said.
The group wants to impose its own version of Islamic law on areas it controls, and Washington says it is al Qaeda’s proxy in the Horn of African nation.
“We have taken this step after we recognised that women need to stay in their homes and take care of their children. Islam does not allow women to go to offices,” Maalim Daaud Mohmed, the chairman of Balad Hawa, told Reuters by telephone.
Balad Hawa is located on the Somali border with Kenya, near the Kenyan town of Mandera.
The organisations closed by al Shabaab are the Halgan Businesswomen’s Organisation, the Sed Huro Human Rights Organisation and Farhan Woman for Peace, he said.
The insurgents have banned movies, musical ringtones, dancing at wedding ceremonies and playing and watching soccer.
Courts have ordered executions, floggings and amputations in recent months, mostly in the southern Kismayu region and rebel-held districts of the capital.
The rebel leader said they would also close five non-governmental organisations in the region. He did not name them.
In the capital Mogadishu, the UN-backed government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed sentenced six soldiers to death for the murder of a fellow soldier.
“We have sentenced six military men to death for killing a government soldier,” Ali Hassan Isak, the chairman of Somalia’s military court, told Reuters yesterday.
He said three of the men had been sentenced in absentia because they escaped arrest immediately after the incident. The six were accused of opening fire on a soldier who was in a car on Sunday, killing him.
“We are applying both Islamic sharia law and the military Act 19 which states one should be killed for killing another,” he said.
Somalia has been mired in chaos for nearly two decades and the latest attempt to establish a government has been hampered by insurgents who control most of south and central Somalia.
The chaos has also allowed pirate gangs to operate with impunity, hijacking merchant ships, fishing vessels and yachts and demanding hefty ransoms for their return.
Yesterday, two men tried to hijack a plane flying to Djibouti from Bossaso airport, aviation officials said.
“The pilot saved the plane by landing it at the same Bossaso airport,” Mohamud Sheikh Ali, general manager of the Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority, told Reuters.
On landing, police arrested the hijackers after an exchange of fire which injured one of the attackers. Officials said the hijackers’ aim was to land the plane in the pirate-infested town of Lasqoray and kidnap two German passengers.
Pic: Women insurgents of Somali