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Al-Shabab Executes 5, Including Teenage Boy

FILE - Hundreds of newly trained al-Shabab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area 18 km south of Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 17, 2017.

Al-Shabab militants in Somalia have executed five people, including a 16-year-old boy, who they accused of spying for Kenyan, U.S. and Somali government forces.

The boy and four men were publicly executed by a firing squad Sunday in the town of Idale, 60 kilometers south of Baidoa, after an al-Shabab judge convicted them based on their alleged confessions. The judge did not release evidence of the accusations against the victims.

Al-Shabab has executed a total of 22 people this year — nine based on spying allegations, with the others accused of crimes ranging from rape to sodomy to financial mismanagement.

The al-Qaida-linked group has tried for more than a decade to overthrow Somalia's government and impose its strict version of Islamic law on the Horn of Africa nation.

The five executed Sunday were accused of spying on al-Shabab militia movements, and working on to obtaining specific telephone contacts of al-Shabab leaders, according to the judge.

The judge said one of the men also admitted that he was trying to learn the whereabouts of Kenyan troops captured by al-Shabab in January 2016 during the attack on the El Adde military base.

In August al-Shabab executed one of the Kenyan soldiers but it’s believed the group is still holding several others as hostages.

The 16-year-old boy executed on Sunday was identified as Jibril Salah Haji Mohamed. The al-Shabab judge accused him of working with Somali government forces for three months.

Relatives of one of the men executed denied that he was spy. Yonis Aden Hassan says his cousin, Abdiaziz Ibrahim Mohamed, was an innocent man who owned a truck that operated between Mogadishu and Baidoa.

He told VOA Somali that al-Shabab first seized his cousin’s truck in 2014 near Jimcadda village in Bay region and then asked him to come and get it. Hassan says when Mohamed arrived the village, he was arrested and never seen again.

Hassan said the family only learned about his death yesterday after the execution. “They did not give his body back to his relatives so we don’t know how he died,” says Hassan, who works as an administration official in Bay region.