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Military court in Mogadishu sentences plane bombers to life

A military court in the Somali capital Mogadishu has handed down life terms to two men found guilty of masterminding a bombing of an airliner in February. The attack by al-Shabab led to an emergency landing.

The explosion happened on the Daallo Airlines Airbus A321 about 15 minutes after the jet took off from Mogadishu airport on February 2 with 74 passengers on board. It tore a hole in the outer wall of the plane, sucking the suicide bomber out.

Islamic extremist group

al-Shabab

- which is fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu - claimed the attack was retribution for "crimes committed by the coalition of Western crusaders and their intelligence agencies against the Muslims of Somalia."

The attack, killed one passenger, Abdullahi Abdisalam Borle. He was thought to be the suspected suicide bomber and a body believed to be his was later found in a town north of Mogadishu.

Guilty as charged

"Abdiweli Mohamud Maow and Areys Hashi Abdi, who is absent, were found guilty as charged. The court sentences them to life imprisonment," Lieutenant Colonel Hassan Nur Shute, head of the military court, said.

Abdiweli Mohamed Maow - a former senior security officer at Mogadishu Airport - was convicted of preparing the laptop computer used to bomb the plane and Areys Hashi Abdi was convicted in absentia.

Watch video 00:44

Somalia Plane Bomber CCTV Video

The court also convicted eight other people, including a woman, for their roles in planning the bombing. It sentenced them to from six months to four years in jail. Six other suspects were acquitted and ordered freed from custody. Somalia's military court has in the past regularly sentenced convicted members of the Islamist Shebab to death by firing squad.

jbh/rc (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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