Saturday, 14 November 2009

Somali insurgents say Puntland region "unIslamic, oppressive"

MOGADISHU, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- An Islamist insurgent group in Somalia on Saturday accused authorities in the semi-autonomous northeastern Somali region of Puntland of being "unIslamic" and of suppressing its people.

Sheikh Hassan Yaqub Ali, spokesman for the Al-Shabaab-appointed Islamist administration in Kismayu, south Somalia, told local Shabelle radio that the region's authorities did not implement Islamic Sharia law and "oppress the people."

Two senior regional officials in Puntland, a lawmaker and a judge, were on Tuesday gunned down in the autonomous state and Al-Shabaab Islamist group was singled out as a possible culprit.

The spokesman attributed the lack of Islamic rule in the state for the growing general insecurity in the region and the recent killing of top regional officials, including the judge who presided over people accused of militancy and having links to Al-Shabaab.

"Any place where there is no Islamic rule you will see insecurity and the suppression of people and that is what is happening in Puntland," the Al-Shabaab spokesman said.

The group's spokesman also accused the region's officials of handing over to Ethiopia the people suspected of opposing the government in Addis Ababa.

The judge has reportedly presided over trials of people suspected of involvement in piracy and others belonging to the Islamist insurgent group of Al-Shabaab, which mainly operates in the south and center of Somalia.

Local authorities said they have arrested three people in connection with the killing of the officials and that security was tightened up in the region which is relatively stable compared with the rest of the war-torn Somalia.

The region is a hotbed for piracy which wrecks havoc on ships off the Somali coast and the Gulf of Aden.

Puntland in the northeastern part of the Horn of Africa nation has been self-governing since 1998, when the region unilaterally declared autonomy from the rest of the country and formed its own local administration. 

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