World Cup viewers killed in Somalia
Hizbul Islam executes two people for violating ban on watching football matches.
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2010 13:24 GMT
Somalis use makeshift satellite dishes to capture foreign broadcasts from South Africa [Reuters]

Somali fighters from the Hizbul Islam group have killed two people and arrested dozens for violating a ban on watching World Cup football matches on television.

Witnesses said masked men from the group raided houses on Sunday and Monday in the Afgoi district, 30km south of the capital Mogadishu, to make sure their ban stands.

"Hizbul Islam killed two people and arrested 35 others, all World Cup fans," Ali Yasin Gedi, vice-chairman of the Elman rights group, told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

"Islamists unexpectedly entered houses in Afgoi district and then fired (at) some people who tried to jump over the wall to escape." 

Hizbul Islam and another group, al-Shabaab, which are widely seen as al-Qaeda's proxies in the region, control large swaths of the country and much of Mogadishu.

The groups enforce their own strict interpretation of Islam, routinely banning sport, music and dancing.

"Hizbul Islam unexpectedly knocked on our doors. They jumped over our wall. It was midnight and my two sons and others from the neighbourhood were watching the World Cup," Ismail Sidow, a resident, said.

Some residents in al-Shabaab-controlled areas are furtively watching the world's biggest sporting event, which is being staged in Africa for the first time, using makeshift satellite dishes to capture foreign broadcasts from South Africa.

"The first goal of the World Cup (scored) by South Africa is itself very great - we should be proud of it," Mohamed Muhidiin Xute, a member of Somalia's Football Federation, said.

Three years of fighting in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation has left 21,000 people dead and forced 1.5 million from their homes.

Only small pockets of Mogadishu pital remain in the hands of a UN-backed government and African Union peacekeepers.

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