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Somalia Publicly Executes Former Al Shabaab Spokesman

Hassan Hanafi, a former media officer for the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab, stands tied to a pole before he is executed by shooting at close range on a field in General Kahiye Police Academy in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, April 11, 2016. REUTERS/Ismail Taxta

A former media officer for the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab was publicly executed by a government firing squad on Monday for ordering the death of six journalists, court officials said.

Hassan Hanafi, who arranged news conferences for the al Qaeda-linked Islamist group when the militants controlled the capital Mogadishu, admitted during his trial to personally killing one journalist in Somalia.

“Today, the court fulfils the execution of Hassan Hanafi who had killed journalists,” Abdullahi Hassan, deputy judge of the court, told reporters at the scene on Monday.

A masked Hanafi was tied to a pole before government forces opened fire at an execution field at a police training camp, according to witnesses.

Since 1992 a total of 59 journalists have been killed in Somalia, according to industry body, the Committee to Protect Journalists.

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Al Shabaab seeks to impose its strict version of sharia, Islamic law, in Somalia, where it frequently attacks government targets, as well as hotels and restaurants in the capital. The group was pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union peacekeeping forces in 2011 but controls many rural areas in southern Somalia.

Hanafi, 30, admitted joining al Shabaab in 2008 when he worked as a journalist for a local broadcaster. He was arrested in neighboring Kenya last year and returned to Somalia for trial.

A few days ago, a military court executed two men accused of killing a female reporter employed by the state radio, court officials said.

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