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Somalia/Pakistan - preachers killed

Five Pakistani preachers shot dead in Puntland

Article published on the 2009-08-12 Latest update 2009-08-12 17:53 TU

An Al Shebab member in Mogadishu(Photo: Reuters)

An Al Shebab member in Mogadishu
(Photo: Reuters)

Five Pakistani preachers have been shot dead in Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland. Three others were injured. An Islamist militia mistook them for members of rival factions.

The preachers were dragged out of the mosque in the town of Galkayo and killed. Three others were injured.

There are reported to be 25 Pakistani preachers in Puntland.

The killers were members of a group called Ahlu Sunna Wal-jamaah, according to Ali Jama, the Chief Executive officer of Puntland President's office.

"They are the oldest Islamist group in Somalia at large and recently they have been fighting with Al Shebab and Hizbul Islam, those who are fighting in Mogadishu," he told RFI, adding that the attackers probably mistook the identity of their targets.

"These Pakistani preachers, they dress like Al Shebab or Hizbul Islam," says Jama. "Ideologically they are not far from Al Shebab and Hizbul Islam also. That is the motive they have killed this group."

But he adds that the Pakistanis "are not people who use guns. They are peaceful people, who travel all over the world."

Comment: Ali Jama of the Puntland government in Garowe

12/08/2009 by Maureen Grisot

“They’re itinerant preachers,” says Peter Pham of James Madison University. They are “seeking to get Muslims to practice their version of Islam.”

“These preachers were clearly there to seek converts," Pham says

“They reject most forms of Westernisation and Western culture... Officially, they do not embrace violence,” Pham told RFI, but “by calling on Muslims to abstain from interacting with others in the society in which they live, although they don’t push these people to violence, they set it up so that violence groups can easily come by and recruit.”

Analyst: Peter Pham of James Madison University in New York

12/08/2009 by Alexandra Brangeon

Jama says that Galkayo is divided into two.

"The northern part of the town is controlled by the Puntland state of Somalia and the southern part of the town is a lawless area where many factions claim to rule."

But a representative of Ahlu Sunna condemned the killings, saying they are contrary to the teaching of Islam and all customary laws.

Puntland is relatively peaceful and has been spared much of the violence which has ravaged Somalia since 1991. But an Islamic movement there declared a holy war in December against the radical Al Shebab militia that controls much of southern and central Somalia. The group accused Al Shebab of fostering violence in the war-wracked country.

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