U.N CHIEF ACCUSES SOMALI REBELS OF WAR CRIME


The United Nations human rights chief said on Friday that Islamist insurgents in Somalia had executed civilians and set off bombs in residential areas, violations which she said may amount to war crimes. Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, cited credible reports that rebels had also set up tribunals which have handed down death sentences by stoning and decapitation and also ordered amputations.

PILLAY SOMALIACivilians, especially women and children, are bearing the brunt of the latest violence in the lawless Horn of Africa country, she said, as government troops try to drive insurgents out of their bases in the capital Mogadishu. “Witnesses have told U.N. investigators that the so-called al Shabaab groups fighting to topple the transitional government have carried out extrajudicial executions, planted mines, bombs and other explosive devices in civilian areas and used civilians as human shields,” Pillay said in a statement.

“Fighters from both sides are reported to have used torture and fired mortars indiscriminately into areas populated or frequented by civilians,” she said. “Some of these acts might amount to war crimes”. Al Qaeda-linked fighters in al Shabaab control much of southern and central Somalia and all but a few blocks of the capital. Neighbouring countries and western governments fear if the Somali government is overthrown, the country will become a safe haven for al Qaeda training camps and militants will destabilise the region.

Pillay, a former U.N. war crimes prosecutor, said rights activists, aid workers, journalists and the displaced are especially vulnerable. Six journalists have been killed in Mogadishu this year, including four apparently assassinated, she said. There was also increasing evidence that “various forces” in Somalia are recruiting child soldiers, a serious violation of international human rights and humanitarian law, she said.

SOURCED FROM REUTERS

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