Somalia: Islamists warn against ‘immoral culture’ at hotels, beaches

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Islamist militants al-Shabab issued a warning against Somalis who frequent hotels, beaches and nightclubs in the capital Mogadishu, saying it will target men and women who engage in “immoral culture”.

Al-Shabab frequently stages bomb and gun attacks in the capital – and especially around popular hotels – in its bid to topple Somalia’s Western-backed government and impose a harsh version of Islamic law.

Somalia, which descended into chaos after dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991, is trying to rebuild after two decades of conflict and chaos.Al-Shabab fighters perform military exercises south of Mogadishu in 2011.Al-Shabab fighters perform military exercises south of Mogadishu in 2011. Photo: AP

Improvements to the security situation in Mogadishu has led some Somalis to return from the diaspora, and they have brought with them habits of playing music into the night and swimming at Mogadishu’s white sand Indian Ocean beaches.

“Let Muslims avoid going to the hotels where men and women misbehave,” Sheikh Ali Jabal, al-Shabab’s leader for the capital region, said in a statement. “Anybody engaged in this immoral culture is seen as part of the enemies that invaded Somalia.”

Somali authorities had no immediate response to the threat.

Al-Shabab’s warning comes one day after its militants stormed an African Union base, about 90 kilometres south of the capital, where they say they killed 50 peacekeepers.

The peacekeeping force, known as AMISOM, called it a “heinous” attack, but has not released its own death count.

Al-Shabab often exaggerates the success of its attacks, and officials played down losses.

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