, NAIROBI, Apr 19 – Somalia\’s Islamist armed group the Shebab has subjected people in the south of the country to killings, cruel punishments, and repressive social control, a rights group said Monday.
Human Rights Watch also criticised both the transitional government in Mogadishu and the African Union peacekeepers there of indiscriminate attacks that had killed and wounded civilians.
Somalia\’s Al Qaeda-linked militia the Shebab "have brought greater stability to many areas in southern Somalia, but at a high cost" for the local population, especially women, HRW said in a new report.
It accused the Islamist insurgents, who control most of the country including the majority of the capital Mogadishu, of "implacable repression and brutality."
The 62-page report, based on more than 70 interviews with victims and witnesses, said punishments including amputations and floggings were regularly meted without due process.
HRW also criticised "indiscriminate attacks" in the capital Mogadishu by the transitional government and the African Union peacekeeping force, saying they often played a counterproductive role in the crisis.
"Alongside abuses in Shebab-controlled areas, all sides are responsible for laws-of-war violations that continue unabated in Mogadishu," Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch said.
"There is no easy, obvious way to solve the crisis in Somalia," she added.
"But outside powers should address abuses by all sides instead of ignoring those committed by their allies."
Somalia has been plagued by armed conflict since the collapse of its last functioning government in 1991.
The situation dramatically worsened in late 2006, when Ethiopian military forces intervened to smash a coalition of Sharia (Islamic law) courts that had taken control of Mogadishu.