Somalia Ruling Islamic Group Arrests Two Militiamen in World Cup Killings
MOGADISHU, Somalia – The Islamic group that controls Somalia's capital arrested two of its own militiamen for killing two people who were watching a World Cup soccer match, the group's leader said Thursday.
The two detained militiamen allegedly shot a teenage girl and a businessman who defied their orders to stop watching the match between Italy and Germany on Tuesday.
The increasingly powerful Islamic group has forbidden some Somalis from watching television or movies, in line with its strict interpretation of Islam.
But its leader, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, whom U.S. officials have branded a terrorist, said the group has not officially banned television or movies.
The fighters will be charged with manslaughter under Islamic law, and punishment could include demands from the victims' families for compensation.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Islamic Courts Council reiterated its stance against foreign peacekeepers while meeting a delegation of African, Arab and European officials.
"We believe that alien forces are both unnecessary and counterproductive," the council said in a statement distributed to the visitors. "The Somali problem is a political one, and cannot be resolved by military means."
The delegation from the African Union, Arab League, European Union and an East African organization was in Somalia to assess security in the country ahead of a possible peacekeeping mission.
The force would aim to secure the weak, U.N.-backed transitional government that the Islamic group has challenged, help disarm at least 55,000 militia fighters in Somalia and train a new national army.
"They are not really happy with peacekeepers. We will take this message back to our headquarters," said Mohammed Affey, Kenya's ambassador to Somalia, who led the delegation.
The Supreme Islamic Courts Council seized Mogadishu in June and has expanded its control to much of southern Somalia, while the transitional government holds only one town, Baidoa, some 150 miles northwest of the capital.
The visiting officials met leaders of the Islamic group a day after holding talks with the interim government, which has appealed for a peacekeeping force.
Somalia has been without an effective government since largely clan-based warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each other, dividing the nation into rival fiefdoms.
The Islamic group said peacekeepers may have been needed in the past, but not now. It said the question of sending in foreign troops should "be left for the Somalis to discuss."
Meanwhile, a recruiting video issued by the group's members and obtained by The Associated Press this week shows Arab radicals fighting alongside the local extremists in Mogadishu. It invites Muslims from around the world to join in their "holy jihad."
The video, reminiscent of those produced by Islamic militants in Iraq or Afghanistan, provides the first hard evidence that non-Somalis have joined with Islamic extremists in Somalia. The group, however, has denied links to groups like Al Qaeda.