Five Women Stoned To Death in Northern Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) _ Five women accused of adultery were stoned to death in northern Somalia and a sixth woman was lashed 100 times by a mob of Muslim fundamentalists who seemed to enjoy it so much they videotaped it, a United Nations spokeswoman said today.
The harsh sentences dramatized growing fears that the rise of Muslim fundamentalism will add to the turmoil of a country already ravaged by famine, civil war and bloody clan rivalries that have claimed at least 350,000 lives.
″It would seem fundamentalism is really catching on,″ U.N. spokeswoman Cecilia Kamau said. ″Our people are worried about their own security.″
She said the five women killed after Friday prayers ″were buried under a mountain of stone.″
″Nobody wanted to move them,″ she said. ″They were supposed to be an example.″
She said that when U.N. representatives tried to intervene, they were threatened with stoning if they stepped out of their car.
Ms. Kamau said religious leaders said the women had been sentenced to death by stoning. The sixth woman, accused of having illicit sex, was whipped instead of killed because she was not married and thus was not considered to have committed adultery.
″The crowd videotaped it. Our people say they (the crowd) really enjoyed themselves,″ she said.
U.N. field workers were trying to locate the children of the women and either place them in orphanages or help the extended families, Ms. Kamau said.
In southern Somalia, relief workers fighting the country’s famine reported continued sniper attacks on U.N. forces in scattered areas. No casualties were reported.
Bandits looted a feeding center in southern Mogadishu near a hotel that houses Western journalists. They were chased away by two Somali guards.
Katarina Toll, a spokeswoman for the United Nations, said relief supplies were continuing to arrive but there was a shortage of trucks, drivers, military escorts and workers to load and unload the food.
″It’s a very complicated process,″ she said. ″It is not just getting the food to feed the people. There is food but it needs to be distributed. The main problem has been solved.″
Ms. Toll said the United Nations on Friday sent food by convoy to five towns in southern Somalia. Supplies were air dropped into the town of Bu’ale near Jilib, 50 miles north of Kismayu. She said United Nations forces were making an effort to set up a base in Jilib.
In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 14 warring Somali factions signed an agreement Friday calling for a cease-fire, a national reconciliation conference and cooperation with aid agencies, offering some hope of peace in their homeland.
More than 350,000 Somalis have died in the past year from the combined effects of drought and civil war. U.S.-led forces arrived in Somalia on Dec. 9 to protect food shipments from looters and help feed the country’s starving.
On Friday, U.S. Marines stepped up operations to make the streets of the capital, Mogadishu, safer for relief workers and allow the first American troops to go home.
In armored personnel carriers and helicopters, 450 Marines swept down on a major gun market and exchanged food for weapons.
The troops met no opposition and netted 250 assault rifles and machine guns, said Col. Michael W. Hagee, a spokesman. They also collected one small tank, two armored personnel carriers, and ammunition including artillery and mortar shells.