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Somali children given guns and grenades in radio contest

Islamist group al-Shabab gave the prizes to children aged between ten and 17 after testing them on their knowledge of the Koran.

File photo of 9-year-old Liban Mohammed who defected from al-Shabab's army of fighters earlier this year.
File photo of 9-year-old Liban Mohammed who defected from al-Shabab's army of fighters earlier this year.
Image: AP Photo/Jason Straziuso

AN AK-47 AND hand grenades were among the prizes handed out to the winners of a Somali radio station at the weekend, all children aged between ten and 17.

Islamist group al-Shabaab had organised the contest to run on the Andalus radio station during the holy month of Ramadan, and the prize giving ceremony took place on Sunday, reports the BBC.

Al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda linked group which controls much of central and southern Somalia, gave a prize of an AK-47 and around €365 to the winning group, while the runners up were presented with two hand grenades and around €290.

The New York Times reports that children were quizzed on al-Shabab trivia and were tested in their ability to recite the Koran. It’s reported that al-Shabab leader Sheik Muktar Robow Abu Monsur said that “children should use one hand for education and the other for a gun to defence Islam”.

Somalian radio station RBC has published pictures which appear to show some of the winners receiving their prizes. The reports also says that the ceremony, held in the outskirts of Mogadishu was ‘very large’

This is the third year the contest has been held, with a rocket propelled grenade launcher among the prizes in the past.

Meanwhile the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged al-Shabaab to allow aid shipments into the south of Somalia. According to Bloomberg she told a UN meeting in New York that she doesn’t understand what “political or idealogical benefit comes from allowing women and children to starve in areas you’re responsible for”.

The Western-backed Somali government has banned foreign workers from delivering aid controlled by groups like al-Shabab, because the risk of kidnapping is too great.

Somali government bans foreign workers from delivering aid>

750,000 Somalis now at risk of death from famine – UN >

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Emer McLysaght

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