Children aged between 10 and 17 were given a chance to win an AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles as part of a Qu’ran-reading and general knowledge quiz in Somalia.
A Somali radio station run by the Shabab, the most powerful Islamist militant group in the war-ravaged country, held an awards ceremony to honor children who were experts at Shabab trivia and at reciting the Koran.
The contest was held during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, to celebrate the month. The guns were offered so youths can use them ‘to defend Islam’.
The second prize-winners also received an AK-47 and £320, while the third prize was two hand grenades and £250.
It is the third year the competition has been run and previously the first prize was a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
‘Youths should use one hand for education and the other for a gun to defend Islam,’ al-Shabab representative Mukhtar Robow said at the prize-giving ceremony.
The awards were on Sunday handed out at the Andalus radio station in Elasha Biyaha, a small town near Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab, which has strong links to Al Qaeda, controls much of southern and central Somalia, a country with many child soldiers and serious piracy problems.