Somali government officials say al-Shabab militants have executed five men accused of spying for the Somali government, Kenyan and Ethiopian forces.
The five men were publicly executed by a firing squad in the town of Kuntuwarey in Lower Shabelle region.
“The men, innocent civilians, were paraded in an open ground in Kuntuwarey town late Tuesday and a firing squad carried out the execution,” said Aden Omar, the district commissioner of nearby Barawe.
Radio Andalus, al-Shabab's official mouthpiece, broadcast the voice of an al-Shabab judge announcing the sentence against the men. "The judge who announced the verdict did not show any evidence of the accusations against the victims," Omar said.
Omar told VOA Somali that some 500 residents watched the executions -- the first carried out by al-Shabab in the new year.
Last month, the militants executed five people, including a 16-year-old boy, for similar accusations. The group executed 22 people in all last year — nine based on spying allegations, with the others accused of crimes ranging from rape to sodomy to financial mismanagement.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military says it carried out an airstrike Tuesday that killed two al-Shabab extremists and destroyed a vehicle carrying explosives.
“U.S. forces conducted an airstrike against al-Shabab militants in the early morning hours of Jan. 2, 2018, approximately 50 kilometers west of the capital, killing two terrorists and destroying one vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, preventing it from being used against the people in Mogadishu," said the statement, released Wednesday.
Last year the U.S. carried out more than 30 drone strikes against al-Shabab targets.