Somali militants execute 2 teens accused of crimes

Militants from Somalia's most feared insurgent group used a firing squad to execute two teenagers in public, witnesses and officials said Tuesday.

The executions took place Monday in front of hundreds of people summoned to witness the killings in the capital. The firing squad was made up of five masked men.

A self-described "judge" inside al-Shabab, who goes by the name Sheik Omar, told reporters Tuesday that one of the two teens executed was Abdihakim Ali Mohamed, 15, who was accused of sexually assaulting another boy of 9 years old. The other teen was Ismail Hussein Ahmed, 18. He was accused of being a spy for the Mogadishu-based Somali government.

"We have been holding them for some time. We investigated and they confessed," said Omar.

Al-Shabab follows a harsh and conservative reading of Islam. Last month the group executed two teenage girls accused of spying for government soldiers.

Human Rights Watch said in an April report that al-Shabab imposes "unrelenting repression and brutality."

Al-Shabab, which vows allegiance to al-Qaida and whose members include foreign fighters, controls large parts of southern Somalia and much of the capital, Mogadishu.

Somalia has not had an effective central government for 19 years. The U.N.-backed government controls only a few blocks of Mogadishu, while its allies control much of central Somalia.