Somali government executes two as blasts strike
(Adds EU quote)
By Guled Mohamed
MOGADISHU, July 5 (Reuters) - The Somali government on Thursday carried out its first formal executions, killing two suspected Islamist insurgents convicted of murdering a government official just three days earlier.
But even as the administration meted out capital punishment for the first time since its formation in late 2004, rebels kept up a campaign targeting government officials with a trio of blasts.
A Mogadishu court convicted the two men and ordered their executions for the murder of Osman Ali, the deputy district commissioner of Mogadishu's Horuwa district who was gunned down on Monday, officials said.
"They were asked to pray and then were masked and tied to a pole before a firing squad shot them dead. The two men are those who killed the Horuwa deputy district officer," a security source present at the execution said on condition of anonymity.
The last formal executions in Mogadishu were meted out by the Somalia Islamic Courts Council, a hardline Islamist group that ruled the city and most of southern Somalia under strict Islamic law for six months last year.
The government, with Ethiopian military backing, swiftly ran them from power in a lightning war over the New Year.
Since then, rebels the government says are Islamist fighters have attacked government and Ethiopian positions and increasingly are carrying out Iraq-style assassinations, suicide bombs and roadside blasts.
In the latest attack, former warlord and current Mogadishu Mayor Mohamed Omar Habeeb "Dheere" escaped an assassination attempt after a roadside bomb exploded in north Mogadishu after his convoy passed.
"The bomb was definitely targeting the mayor. No one was hurt," said a Dheere aide who declined to be named.
The blast came shortly before the European Commission's new envoy to Somalia, Georges-Marc Andre, flew into Mogadishu to meet President Abdullahi Yusuf and present his credentials.
Andre said his conversation with Yusuf and Ali Mahdi, chair of a repeatedly delayed national reconciliation conference due mid-month, were "frank and useful".
"For the conference to succeed, there must be more openness, more dialogue ... and we hope also better security," Andre told reporters before flying back to Nairobi.
Attackers overnight threw a grenade at the home of Deputy Justice Minister Hassan Dimbil Warsame. But Warsame told Reuters he was not at home at the time and had no details on the damage.
In a separate attack late on Wednesday, five policemen were wounded when a grenade was thrown into Waberi police station in southern Mogadishu.
"Children hurled a grenade at the station. Among the five wounded policemen, one is serious. I think the children were used by the insurgents who normally attack us," one policeman who refused to give his name said.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the Hawiye, Mogadishu's dominant clan, scheduled to start on Thursday was put off indefinitely due to a rift among clan members ahead of the reconciliation conference.
"One group of the Hawiye have pulled off from the meeting saying they don't see why we should meet. Elders are meeting them to try and bring them on board," a Hawiye elder who declined to be named said.
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this