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  • Five Somalis sentenced to death in absentia for bombs

    Posted by on July 29, 2009

    somalia-somalilandHARGEISA (Reuters) – A court in breakaway Somaliland sentenced five men to death in absentia Wednesday for masterminding suicide bomb attacks in 2008 that killed at least 24 people.

    The synchronised blasts in October 2008 — at Ethiopia’s embassy, the local president’s office and a U.N. building — were blamed on Somalia’s militant insurgent movement al Shabaab, which has links to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.

    The blasts in the northern territory, which has been relatively stable since declaring itself independent in 1991, showed the militants could operate beyond their southern strongholds and were one of Somalia’s worst suicide attacks.

    Officials at the Regional Court of Hargeisa, capital of the enclave, said the five convicted Somalis were on the run in other parts of the Horn of Africa nation.

    Somaliland carries out the death sentence by shooting.

    Of 11 men in its custody, all from Somaliland, nine were released then re-arrested following a prosecution appeal, officials and witnesses said. That angered relatives who had to be dispersed by police firing in the air outside court.

    Two were sentenced to 18 months’ jail for obstruction of justice, court officials said.

    Unlike anarchic southern Somalia — where hardline Islamist rebels are battling a weak government and chaos has often reigned for the last 18 years — Somaliland prides itself on having a working judiciary and government structure.

    (Reporting by Hussein Ali Noor; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)


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