Some armed groups who adhere to a more moderate interpretation of Islam have begun battling Al Qaeda-linked extremists.
Somalia is beginning to seem more and more like the Swat Valley of eastern Africa – a place where Al Qaeda-linked insurgents are setting up religious law courts, assassinating government ministers, and spreading their tentacles farther and deeper.
This week, Al Shabab, the top militant Islamist force that controls most of the country, tried and convicted four thieves. Their punishment: amputation of one hand and one foot each, in accordance with a strict, literal reading of Islamic law. The sentence has been temporarily delayed, but it's the latest sign that Somalia is fast becoming an extremist haven. (Last month, Islamists invited a crowd to see a man suspected of stealing $90 worth of clothing get his hand cut off, BBC reports in a detailed eye witness account.)